News in brief.

Mistakes by the Inland Revenue and new government initiatives have made it harder for businesses and their accountants to comply with the UK’s tax system, according to a survey by ACCA. The survey found 95% of accountants had experienced problems with self assessment because of Inland Revenue errors or failures, while 70% said that they now had to spend more time on their clients’ self assessment returns. IR35 caused problems for 92% of respondents.

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– INSOL, the international body for insolvency specialists, has published the first ever survey into the risks and liabilities directors face around the world when their businesses get into trouble. Released this week at INSOL’s international congress, the report highlighted cross-border differences. Where in the US penalties are light, in the UK directors could be penalised for wrongful trading, but in France they could go to jail.

Find out more about INSOL at

– 2020 Consulting Group, the training consultancy for professionals, announced this week that 120 accountancy firms had been awarded its ‘2020 Business Consultants’ certificate, having completed strategic planning, marketing, financial and management modules. 2020 also said 30 Scottish firms had completed a similar training programme launched last month with ICAS.

For more information on the training programme go to

– Consulting firm Accenture, headed by CEO Joe Forehand (left), is to float on the New York Stock Exchange this week despite doubts over market readiness for such a move. Providing the NYSE remains calm, shares in Accenture, which split from Andersen Worldwide last year, will be traded from today. Other IPOs have suffered on the markets this year, and many have been postponed but demand for the stock is expected to be higher than for rival KPMG Consulting, which raised $2bn (#1.4bn) on flotation in February 2001.

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– The European Union has moved a step closer to adopting laws that allow assets to be frozen in any member country following a court order issued in any other member state. The regulation, which will cover the transfer of property to be used for evidence, confiscation or restitution, is the first measure in a programme of mutual recognition of law and court decisions agreed at the EU summit held in Tampere, Finland, in 1999.

Full story at

– The National Audit Office has exceeded its target of saving UK tax-payers #8 for every #1 of its costs, according to its annual report published today. During the past three years the NAO said it saved the taxpayer #1.4bn by identifying cost-savings for government departments. In the last year, it produced 53 major value for money reports, including those on the Millennium Dome and the public private partnership scheme for London Underground.

The NAO’s annual report can be found at

– Accountancy skills shortages are the worst for any job sector in the UK, according to recruitment consultancy Reed Personnel. The skill shortages stood at 20% of the whole jobs market, while IT shortages made up 10% of the market. According to those surveyed, the main impacts included a drop in service standards and increasing pressures on existing staff.

For advice on careers and salaries, see

– The Serious Fraud Office is due to publish its annual report today, setting out its achievements during the past year. Under the guidance of its director Rosalind Wright, the SFO was recently brought in to look at the scandals surrounding the collapse of Independent Insurance and financial irregularities at SSL International, the condom manufacturer.

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– A report by the Adjudicator’s Office said the Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise had significantly reduced the length of time taken to respond to complaints. Adjudicator Dame Barbara Mills said she was ‘delighted to report’ that both government departments had reduced waiting time and the time taken to investigate complaints. The average time taken was less than four months, easily beating a target of four-and-a-half months.

The full story can be read at, letters page 11.

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