We need to pull together[QQ] Peter Mitchell (Rattled by SPA’s success, letters, 29 June) writes very plausibly to counter my criticisms of the SPA, but he misses the point and I think he knows it.

His organisation is based on a negative approach. He feels that small firms don’t have a voice at the English ICA, so he takes his ball home.

To a certain extent I agree with his underlying motivation. There’s no doubt smaller practitioners do need to put a lot of work in to stand shoulder to shoulder with the big firms. But it’s no good sniping from the outside.

The institute’s General Practitioner Panel (successor to the General Practitioner Board) is made up of exactly the same people as the SPA, but works from the inside to improve things. That’s much harder, but it’s the only way to do it.

Sure, much needs to be done to get things right, but at least we are working hard to do it and a lot of members are putting a lot of work in to achieve what we need.

John Malthouse, chairman GPP

They don’t understand us

With 40% of independent IT contracting businesses leaving the UK because of IT (Professional Contractors Group), the IT press reporting the disappearance of some 30,000 IT specialists, and some 30% of independent Oil & Gas Contractors moving overseas (Professional Contractors Group) who will be left to do this work?

You can raise finance until you are blue in the face, but if you cannot get the skills your project will never get off the ground. IR35 effectively means small independent consultants with fewer than 21 working shareholders cannot make a living in the UK.

Lest anyone think that this only affects IT, it also includes teaching professionals, nurses and many small businesses who have few customers.

This government does not understand small businesses, let alone IT.

P Edwards, Professional Contractors Group

Questions of consolidation

My concern about consolidators coming from outside the industry is that they neither understand nor appreciate the value and operation of a practice.

If a partner is bought out by a consolidator then all that was purchased is a very expensive list of names. Without the accountant operating the service there is nothing.

In my view, the profession must be owned and managed by accountants.

I do not object to the possibility of external investment into accountancy practices, but the business must remain within the control of the profession itself.

Ron Goldsmith, Reading

Tax: the best job in the known universe

If I can make my contribution to the continuing debate about accountants revealing their occupation or otherwise at parties.

My usual ruse is to state that I do/or teach the most fascinating, interesting occupation in the entire world/known universe.

This with a bit of encouragement (if the other person isn’t too boring!) ends up with a trail through occupations and ends up with gasps of surprise and gives me a chance to explain why accountancy (or to be precise tax) is so good.

I usually end up saying it’s all about people and reeling off some of my experiences, that’s what makes it so interesting!

Hywel Williams, University of Glamorgan

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