Best practice pilot schemes

Proposals to improve relations between the accountancy profession andaccountants and Business Links agencies. local Business Links agencies were laid before a forum of Business Links leaders in Newbury last week.

A joint DTI working party, including the English ICA, ACCA and Business Links representatives, drafted a best-practice agreement to reduce friction between accountants and the 89 local Business Links agencies that act as one-stop advice centres for small and medium-sized businesses.

David Harvey, head of ACCA’s small business unit explained that over the past three years the relationship between Business Links and the profession ‘hasn’t worked as well as it should have.’

Concerns were raised about Business Links taking on financial advice that should be provided by accountants and the advice network’s lack of recognition for professional accountancy qualifications.

‘Accountants who are qualified and monitored should not have to go through all sorts of hoops for #300 of work,’ claimed Harvey.

The odds were in favour of the chief executive’s forum in Newbury endorsing the best-practice agreement and would most likely appoint someone to translate the written document into one or two local pilot schemes, said Harvey.

‘Some of the Business Links are very good and some aren’t,’ claimed Harvey.

‘The chief executives are trying to get all of them to go in the same direction and recognise that individual Business Links have got to have relationships with local accountants.’

The joint working party is one of several initiatives introduced by industry minister Barbara Roche to improve the Business Links service. The best practice proposals, said Harvey, formalised the need for local Business Links advisers and accountants to get to know each other better.

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