News in Brief – 28 January

PwC to be European network rep

PricewaterhouseCoopers is to represent professional services firms on the newly established European Services Network, which has been set up to secure the liberalisation of world trade in services. One hundred business leaders will be working with Sir Leon Brittan to develop 11 general principles in the forthcoming GATS 2000 talks to be held in November. These include pro-competitive regulation, an internationally co-ordinated approach to commerce, removing barriers to staff mobility and mutual recognition of professional qualifications.

Audit is best check on firms Almost three-quarters of small companies and over half of banks agree that an audit provides the most authoritative check on a company’s performance, according to a MORI survey commissioned by ACCA. Over 200 small businesses, banks and audit practices were surveyed last summer and concluded that the majority of respondents see the value in using a professionally qualified accountant. The results will be used as input to ACCA’s submission on company law reform as well as to the current syllabus review.

Magill joins FRRP Deloitte & Touche accountant John Magill, renowned for his role in the Westminster Council homes-for-votes scandal, has been appointed to the Financial Reporting Review Panel, which has the power to investigate annual accounts of any public or large private company.

Royal commission chair Accountant Peer Lord Wakeham is to chair the Royal Commission charged with drawing up plans for a reformed Upper Chamber. Prime minister Tony Blair personally approached Lord Wakeham, who is also chairman of the Press Complaints Commission.

NAO to examine DTI role National Audit Office chief Sir John Bourn has been asked to examine the roles of the DTI and the Treasury in approving the Post Office’s purchase of German Parcels. The NAO does not have powers to investigate the Post Office itself.

Revenue seeks new watchdog The Inland Revenue is looking for a new independent adjudicator to act as the taxpayer’s watchdog. The current adjudicator, Elizabeth Filkin, will leave the post in February, after six years, to become parliamentary commissioner for standards. She replaces Sir Gordon Downey, who retired in November.

AAC status for Home Office The Home Office has gained Approved Assessment Centre status from the Association of Accounting Technicians, allowing it to provide its accounts staff with work-based training. The AAT said the Home Office initiative was in response to the government’s move from cash accounting to resource accounting and budgeting. Pay cuts for District Councils endring District Council accountants are facing pay cuts of up to 37%, following implementation of the single status job evaluation scheme. The authority is pioneering the national scheme to which a further 100 councils are committed. Those staff adversely affected have until the end of this month to lodge appeals, which will be heard by an independent panel in February.

Audit commission’s future The Audit Commission has outlined its strategic direction for the coming three years, with a focus on regularity, public-service improvement and inspection. Commission controller Andrew Foster said the central focus will be to promote the best use of public money and ensure the voice of the citizen is heard.

Correction In our story ‘CIMA claims victory over CIPFA in NHS membership battle’ (7 January) the figures for CIPFA members in the NHS should have read 1,500 and 500 students, instead of 15,000 members and 1,500 students. We apologise for any confusion.

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