News in Brief – 26 February

Bank warning

The Bank of England must take drastic action to avoid many small businesses slipping into insolvency, experts are warning. The strong pound has squeezed exporters, particularly in manufacturing and engineering, for over a year causing many smaller firms to collapse. KPMG figures show a 4% increase in insolvencies.

PFI advice wins support

The English ICA has backed the Accounting Standards Board’s guidelines on accounting for PFI contracts. The guidelines advise auditors on PFI projects, how to decide whether a public sector body is leasing an asset or a service from its PFI contractor and, consequently, whose books the asset should appear in.

Stoys merges practices

BDO Stoy Hayward has merged its Manchester and Liverpool offices with insolvency practitioner Leonard Curtis practices in the cities. Four Leonard Curtis partners join partner Nigel Edmondson at Stoys.

b>E&Y shows tax growth

Ernst & Young has the fastest growing Big Six tax practice, a report by International Tax Review says. Global tax revenues grew by 18% last year. Its closest rival was Andersen Worldwide with 15%. Price Waterhouse tailed behind with 10% growth in global tax revenue.

Arthurs’ legal deal still on cards

The proposed merger between Arthur Andersen and law firm Wilde Sapte is far from closed, according to an internal e-mail circulated at the accountancy firm. The memo said talks were ‘interesting’ but agreement is still a long way off.

Woman FD is a Scots first

A former Arthur Andersen corporate financier has become the first woman finance director of a listed Scottish company. Jane Karwoski will join biotechnology company Shield Diagnostics following the elevation of former FD David Evans to chief executive.

NIC reforms will cost more

Proposed national insurance reforms aimed at cutting the cost of employing lower paid staff will lead to a quarter of all employers paying more NICs for staff earning between #3,000 and #11,000 a year, claims Maurice Fitzpatrick, head of economics at Chantrey Vellacott. The reforms, put forward by Martin Taylor, chief executive of Barclays Bank and head of the government’s tax and benefits review, suggest an across-the-board NIC rate of 12.2%.

Revenue appeal

The Special Commissioners scheduled a public hearing on Wednesday in Manchester to hear an appeal from Stefan Gamble of Hope Design Production. The self-employed technical designer alleged Goole Inland Revenue Office tried to cover up a sequence of errors dating back to 1985 and attempted to coerce him into settling through ‘an ever-decreasing spiral of more serious errors’.

Scots tighten up on councils

The Scottish Accounts Commission is today urging local authorities to save #15m a year by pressing harder for payment of council tax bills on time. The commission’s report says council collection performance ranges from 74% to 96%.

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