ICAS: Lack of audit and corporate governance reform from UK government is inexcusable

ICAS: Lack of audit and corporate governance reform from UK government is inexcusable

Bruce Cartwright – CEO of ICAS

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) has urged the next UK government to prioritise audit and corporate governance reform to rebuild trust in businesses and safeguard livelihoods.

The call is part of ICAS’ five key asks for the next government aimed at building a more sustainable, ethical, and stronger finance profession, to not only support the UK’s growth agenda, but also to ensure that a positive legacy is left for future generations.

Bruce Cartwright, ICAS CEO, said: “We have seen an inexcusable lack of action from the UK government when it comes to audit and corporate governance reform, and we urge the next government to bring forward the legislation needed to tackle this issue head on. It’s too important to wait and incur even longer delays on this crucial issue of public trust.

“It’s been six years since the collapse of Carillion, followed by another major failure at Patisserie Valerie. And despite agreement across political parties, businesses and the accountancy profession that reform is needed, we have yet to see any real effort to tackle these issues.

“Corporate failures impact everyone, from shareholders and staff to suppliers and people’s pensions. And while they can’t be prevented, mechanisms can be put in place to make sure that when things do go wrong, contingency planning is improved and the opportunity to learn valuable lessons is increased.

“The public, as well as investors, need to be reassured that audit and corporate governance mechanisms are fit for purpose.”

In addition to audit and corporate governance reform, ICAS is calling for the next UK government to:

  • Invest in our tax system and HMRC: ICAS wants the next government to fund HMRC to a level that means they can deliver a service that is fit for purpose, helps customers, and closes the tax gap.
  • Make UK business more sustainability focused: ICAS calls for the next government to be bolder and adopt comprehensive sustainability reporting standards that reflect the full impact business has on the environment and society. This means quickly putting in place legal mechanisms to enforce mandatory, high quality, international sustainability reporting standards in the UK. Because the planet won’t wait.
  • Invest in skills and equip the accountancy profession for the future: ICAS asks the next government to support and widen access to the profession through a better system of apprenticeships, which is joined up across the UK. They also want to see more investment in finance and accounting courses at colleges and universities, where funding has been cut. And they want politicians to support more conversations about doing the right thing, money and budgeting at a much earlier stage in schools.
  • Create clear, consistent, and proportional regulation: ICAS wants the next government to focus on realistic, proportionate, fair and purposeful regulation, which works to protect and improve the UK’s global standing and reputation as a place to do business. Regulation can support and improve our economic growth, but it needs to be developed in partnership with professional bodies and business.

ICAS’ full list of asks for the next UK government is available here.

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