Magazine article Public Finance

Rest Assured

Magazine article Public Finance

Rest Assured

Article excerpt

CIPFA's AGM on June 12 will decide on an important set of proposed changes to the institute's bye-laws. These are designed to pave the way for the introduction of a practice assurance scheme for our self-employed members. This is a relatively small but increasing group of the membership. Employment trends in the public sector mean that many more members might move into self-employment in the future.

The institute has been considering the need for a practice assurance scheme for some time, to reflect changes in the regulatory environment and to bring CIPFA into line with other accountancy bodies in the UK and internationally. In particular, one of our obligations as a member of the International Federation of Accountants is to make arrangements for quality assurance of the CIPFA membership.

Now matters have been brought to a head by the European Union's new Money Laundering Directive, which will be implemented into UK law by the end of the year.

The institute has a responsibility to provide viable arrangements that will enable its members to comply with these new requirements. The formal responsibility for implementing the regulations in the UK falls to Revenue and Customs. However, the accountancy institutes and others can apply to R&C to be recognised as supervisory bodies, and that requires a practice assurance scheme.

Without one, CIPFA members in practice would have to register with R&C unless they were also members of other institutes. R&C's powers are likely to be extensive. For example, it will be able to require individuals to make themselves available to inspection on demand, and it will have the right to enter premises. It would also charge a fee, although the level has not yet been advised.

There are therefore very strong reasons for having a practice assurance scheme in place by the time the money laundering regulations take effect, and ensuring that its scope meets the definitions in the regulations. Although these have yet to be finalised, the indications in the government's draft regulations are that a scheme would need to cover many activities that CPFAs in practice undertake, including consultancy. We will review the final regulations in detail to ensure the CIPFA scheme is framed to meet those requirements.

In considering how best to implement a scheme, we had two main options: develop our own or adapt one already run by another accountancy body. …

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