Big business main beneficiaries from IFRS: BIS

The UK’s largest corporations have become the main beneficiaries of
international accounting standards with smaller companies receiving little
benefit, according to internal research by the Department of Business (BIS).

The research, summerised in a document seen by Accountancy Age,
found that, “the main beneficiaries have been the largest corporations”. The
research will undermine preparations by the UK Accounting Standards Board (ASB)
to replace current UK GAAP with international standards for SMEs.

The IFRS for SMEs project will force an estimated 80,000 businesses to switch
accounting codes to new international rules. Accountancy Age
understands, BIS is concerned the new rules will present an unnecessary
burden to businesses recovering from the recession and absorbing the impact of
the comprehensive spending review.

In a September 21 letter, BIS corporate law and governance director Richard
Carter wrote to ASB chairman Ian Mackintosh warning new accounting rules “could
well involve a significant increase in net cost to UK businesses”.

“We had a word last week about the importance my ministers attach to ensuring
that any changes to UK GAAP lead to a net reduction in burdens on businesses,”
he said.

BIS also urged the ASB not to present the draft standards as a forgone
conclusion when they are released for consultation later this month.

“It is important to be very clear from the start that this may or may not
lead to a final standard similar to the current (proposals),” he said.

“To avoid this, and the risks of the ASB’s reputation potentially being
harmed, it will be important to be absolutely clear throughout the document,
that the ASB has not reached a final view on any particular option.”

A BIS spokeswoman said it was essential the new rules “be net beneficial to
the UK and its economy”.

Mackintosh stood aside as ASB chairman after he was announced as the
new vice-chairman of the International
Accounting Standards Board last week. The ASB is yet to announce an interim

There’s also concern from within the ASB the new code will make accounting
more complicated for some businesses. Under the new classification systems all
listed companies have to use full international accounting rules.

Companies listed on the PLUS markets, which do not use full international
accounting rules, may be forced to contend with complex rules.

“We have pushed a significant number of small entities up into full IFRS,”
said ASB board member Andy Simmonds.

“I have doubts whether full IFRS is suitable in view of its increasing
complexity and theoretical nature.”

Further reading:

Switching to IFRS could leave businesses with a hefty bill

culture: newly qualified accountants will bear the IFRS burden

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