Insolvency watchdog unleashed

Insolvency minister Kim Howells has approved the creation of an Insolvency Practices Council – a regulatory board whose formation paves the way for the biggest changes to the profession in more than a decade.

Accountancy Age understands the new regime will be up and running by the end of the year. But, with local elections next month and European elections in June, it could be the last of a series of major announcements that the profession is awaiting before the government enters ‘pre-election purdah’.

Senior insolvency practitioners have now been charged with producing a more in-depth paper, including details about representation and funding of the new council.

They are expected to back a body along the lines of the review board for the accountancy profession, with a majority of lay members reviewing the appropriateness of professional and ethical standards.

There has been no formal announcement on the council. But in a letter seen by Accountancy Age, Howells said: ‘There needs to be an effective and influential point in the system at which a further public interest element must be introduced.’


insolvency partner Steve Hill said: ‘We have always been in favour of this and it will bring public confidence.’

The new council forms part of a wider review of insolvency. The Ferris committee, which is looking at fee arrangements, is expected to conclude in July. At the same time a joint DTI/Treasury review is expected to publish its conclusions about changes to the culture of corporate and business rescue.

But an internal trade department working group focusing on bankruptcy rules has now been delayed for several months. It was due to report in April, but the DTI has asked for further empirical research.

It is one of several delays to hit government business. The Limited Liability Partnerships Bill – which had also been expected this month – is not now expected to reach the Lords until at least June.

The Treasury also admitted this week that its response to the Accounting Standards Board’s final guidance on the private finance initiative was unlikely to surface before the devolution elections are over.

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