The pre-Budget report greatly strengthened the enterprise initiative. Changes to capital gains tax, the tax arrangements for share options and the enterprise management incentive for managers of small companies are powerful incentives. Tax breaks for research spending by small companies paid as a credit, and not as a tax relief are a major innovation. The support for self-employment and small business will promote enterprise culture. And expanding the base of smaller companies will create investment opportunities. But it will also create new scrutiny issues. These issues will increase if insolvency rules change to protect the enterprise, if banks are required to help small business and if the audit threshold is raised. Modern scrutiny must replace existing out-of-date burdens. The enterprise initiative and the scepticism about regulations and reporting practices will begin a tougher debate about scrutiny of enterprise performance. The public is sceptical of self-regulation. This is the major reason for reform of the financial services sector and the introduction of the Financial Services Authority. The public is more wary now organisations can combine profit with protection. The basis of external reporting is poor. There is no access to audit working papers, the audit contract, management letters or anything else. Worthwhile information about an enterprise is often in short supply. Auditors do not owe a 'duty of care' to any individual shareholder. Resigning auditors sometimes fail to comply with the requirements of the Companies Act 1985, yet enjoy qualified privileges from libel laws. Rather than publicly stating reasons for their resignation, auditors may prefer to walk away, leaving the public in the dark. The accountancy bodies will not be able to persuade a public which holds shares, particularly through employee share schemes, to believe they can combine their trade association and public regulator roles effectively. As the number of small enterprises grows, the need for an effective, well-informed market will grow too. The audit industry will not escape change. - Jim Cousins is MP for Newcastle Central.
Much of today's AI is narrowly focused on specific tasks - a far cry from the general AI envisioned by the early pioneers
US space agency believes the crater could have preserved ancient organic molecules from the water that flowed there billions of years ago
Valve quietly closes down hardware initiatives launched following Windows 8
Scientists create a virtual reality simulation of a black hole sitting at the centre of the Milky Way
Simulations like this can help people understand complicated systems in the universe in a better way