News in brief.

Small Business Service CEO David Irwin has made a popular ruling to settle the issue of whether consultants working with local Business Links outlets should be required to undergo a third party accreditation irrespective of any professional qualification that they might hold. Irwin has now ruled in favour of ACCA and other qualified professionals. A new Business Links license regime will begin in April, stating that members in practice will not be required to undertake separate accreditation or assessment to participate in Business Link consultancy contracts. For more on this story go to

The Inland Revenue has explained it was two months late publishing its annual report because it had to wait for figures for its resource accounts section. A Revenue spokesman said the delay to the report – published late last Friday – was caused by the wait for the figures included in Appendix 1, and which had not been included in previous accounts. The report revealed collections from national insurance, tax and duties of #212,856m, up from #195,885m in the previous year. The cost of collecting each pound of tax was 1.1p, compared to 1.33p the year before. For more on this story go to

The Commons public accounts committee has criticised the Lord Chancellor for his department’s lack of supervision of client investments made by the Public Trust Office and the receivers appointed by the Court of Protection. The PAC said Lord Irvine’s department had failed to respond to the office’s shortcomings identified in a previous report last year. Adam Broke, chairman of the Committee of Tax Law Consultative Bodies, has given his seal of approval to the first tax bill to emerge from the simplification process. Referring to the capital allowances bill at the first meeting of the Lords and Commons tax simplification committee, Broke said: ‘It is better by a distance than anything I have seen before. It is not, I would say, readable, but it is understandable.’ Former Former Tory chancellor Kenneth Clarke, chairman of the committee, said they would ‘report whether we are satisfied that the drafting of the bill is an improvement and the re-write has achieved its purpose and will be a practical benefit to users of the legislation’.

Peter Smith, former senior partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, has been appointed as a non-executive director of NM Rothschild, the independent investment bank. Smith, whose non-executive responsibilities have yet to be decided, is also a member of the finance and general purposes committee at the CBI and an ICAEW councillor. Smith retired from PwC, Rothschild’s auditor, at the end of last year. He was replaced by Kieran Poynter. For more on this story go to

John Stafford, chief executive and founder of troubled ship builder Cammell Laird, has quit after the loss of a #50m contract led to falls in its share price. The ship builder ran aground after its contract to rebuild the Costa Classica luxury liner was cancelled last autumn. Stafford, a former Grant Thornton accountant, resurrected the Cammell Laird name when he bought it from VSEL in 1995, two years after the shipyard had been closed down. Finance director Jon Schofield has temporarily taken on the role of chief executive. For more on this story go to

BG Strand is the winner of our competition which asked you to name your top ten personalities (Accountancy Age, 11 January, page 4). He ranked his top ten as follows: 1) Gordon Brown; 2) Michael Scholar; 3) Nick Montagu; 4) Dawn Primarolo; 5) Lynn Turner; 6) Arthur Levitt; 7) Andrew Foster; 8) Gavin May; 9) Ian Plaistow; 10) Andrew Likierman. And his reasons for picking the iron chancellor as his number one: ‘Brown’s ambition to locate next door drives, dominates and determines his tax approach and thereby his influence on accounting profession.’ To see the list of the Accountancy Age 50 most influential personalities go to

Clarification Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s is outsourcing part of its finance function, including payroll, to Rebus Human Resource. The seven-year outsourcing deal with Accenture, formerly Andersen Consulting, involving 800 staff and featured in Accountancy Age last week, covers IT services. For more on this story go to or visit

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