Flaws in self-regulation[QQ] Self-regulation does not work unless the regulatory bodies do more to drive out the undesirable members who bring our profession into disrepute. Small firms like mine spend a lot of money, time and effort in compliance, whereas the cynical element are only too happy to see us do so, knowing that they will get away at most with small fines and an admonishment and usually much less, without any intention of mending their ways. We cannot compete with them. To attempt to do so means that we almost certainly cut corners, which invariably is not in the public interest. I am aware of misstated comments on annual returns to regulators, designed to whitewash risk reviews, and the current self-assessment regime on CPE/CPD training is a joke. Those of us who regularly attend courses provided by the professional bodies, local branches and other training organisations must be in the minority, judging by attendances, yet little or nothing appears to be done about the majority. In my view the professional bodies must take a more active role in policing their members on such matters, or else statutory regulation will be forced upon us, and they, along with their members, will be the poorer for the experience. I recently discovered a set of accounts filed at Companies House, whose audit report was based on the long-since outlawed pre-SAS 600 example 6 'In common with many businesses of similar size and organisation ...' The professional body to which the auditor belonged, on investigation, explained that draft accounts had been filed, and the audit report was provided, in error. They missed the more important point entirely - the company concerned was governed by the Housing Association Act 1985, which was not acknowledged anywhere. Where is the public interest in circumstances such as these? Demanding statutory regulation. And quite right too. The firm concerned does not appear to have been fined or even admonished. I am against statutory regulation in principle, especially where it adds to the already overburdened system. But perhaps a greater threat would be DTI (or even FSA) monitoring direct with audit firms to sharpen the interest of the professional bodies and their members, to bring them into line, so that we can all compete on a level playing field. By the way, I have nothing to do with Austin Mitchell or Jim Cousins, and do not share their political beliefs, but I can sympathise with many of the things they expound against our professional bodies. Nigel Wyrley-Birch, via e-mail VAT monkey business I was interested to read (Accountancy Age, 11 November) the article concerning the recent VAT ruling on zoos. I do not have a particular interest in zoos; but below the picture of the chimpanzee I was surprised to see you write: 'Dismissing an appeal by the owners of Chester zoo ...' Is Chester zoo really owned by a chimpanzee? Furthermore, I deduce from his (or her ... I can't quite tell) relaxed pose, that the primate is likely to be a qualified accountant who probably trained with one of the large firms. Matthew R Geale, Leeds IR35 could well backfire I think the government is cutting its own throat as any gains in received national insurance contributions will be more than offset by losses from the following: - International companies will (and are planning to) move their software development and design outside the UK. - Senior contractors and consultants in the main - such as myself - are looking to undertake individual assignments for clients - but we will work fewer days per year and earn less as our expenses will be higher. (Better than working the same and letting the taxman have it.) - One of the issues which seems to have been ignored in the articles I have read on the subject is that contractors working away from home have expenses. Particularly living in the North and working in the South accommodation plus petrol plus meals exceed £300 per week. These would no longer be allowed as expenses if one is 'considered an employee'. According to the Revenue, these and training, office expenses and so on will now have to be accommodated by the 5% of income which they will allow for overheads. Patrick Duffy, via e-mail The last word on language Come, come Ms Green (Letters, 4 November), 'every parent wants the best for their child' has been standard English for at least a quarter of a century. What constitutes standard English changes over time and it is only the lazy who can't be bothered to write non-gender laden English. Bernard Danson ACMA, London SE17 Taxman hits the little guys Many small UK companies struggle to make profits. Often the directors have invested all their savings and their mortgaged property, and are working seven days a week. However, turnover grows as they gain local share and become known. Then they get hit by VAT, even though they are still not making profits. Prices automatically have to be passed on to the consumer, leaving the business open to competition through price cutting. Carlos Ochoa, Richmond-upon-Thames, London Blair feeling bullish over countryside taxation The prime minister says he wants, in this country, more enterprise and fairness. What is fair about lowering capital gains tax on the windfalls to landowners that will result from the rezoning of large areas of countryside for building over the next 20 years? Are the landowners being enterprising? Is it fair to take perhaps £100bn from society in general, and give it as profit to a comparatively small number of landowners? Is this an efficient way to run a modern enterprise-led democratic capitalist economy? Surely, after 50 years of town and country planning control, it is time to separate the taxation of countryside, rezoning windfalls from that of the normal marketplace for building land inside town and village planning boundaries. John Freeman, London SW7 All letters should be sent to: The Editor, Accountancy Age, VNU House, 32-34 Broadwick Street, London W1A 2HG Tel: 0171 316 9236 Fax: 0171 316 9250 Or e-mail us on: [email protected] Accountancy Age reserves the right to edit letters for space or clarity. Please include your title, company name and a daytime telephone number.
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