The move, which sees an increase of £120 for a practising certificate, up to £465 from next year, was accompanied by a £40 rise in its annual subscription from £295 to £335 per year. This was blamed on a dramatic drop in the number of students signing up for the qualification training and examinations.
David Brew, chief executive of ICAS, aimed criticism at the Human Rights Act for significantly increasing the company’s legal costs when it came to internal proceedings for disciplining offending members. He said the current procedures were being challenged as incompatible with the Act and that this was increasing the time and cost of proceedings significantly.
‘What was once an internal matter is becoming more like a public court case, where we are compelled to call witnesses and produce evidence, which is very expensive,’ said Brew, adding that the body suffered from not having the same powers as the public courts in these matters and of having to finance the process itself.
Brew also explained the reasoning behind the body’s decision to raise subscription fees in order to break even. ‘There has been a significant reduction in the number of accountancy student entrants,’ said Brew.
He added that the decline had been seen through its training arm over the long term and there was no indication the situation would improve.
Brew attributed this reduction to companies under severe economic pressure reducing the number of accountancy students they are taking on.
ICAS claimed that its members supported the move to increase subscriptions, with only 3% who voted in online and postal poll opposing the proposed changes in fees.
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