Business balks at reporting reform

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The Independent Online

Business leaders are on a collision course with the accounting profession over the extension of international financial reporting standards (IFRS) to all but the smallest British companies.

Moves enforcing these rules will be costly and damaging to competitiveness, business groups have said. The switch could affect up to 50,000 companies.

But despite fierce opposition from the CBI and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), two accountancy bodies are urging the UK to scrap its own standards and replace them with a single set of international rules.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) believes the switch should be made "as quickly as possible", while the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants said all publicly accountable entities, including large private companies, should be required to use IFRS.

Currently, companies can report under IFRS, UK generally accepted accounting principles or a standard for smaller companies, depending on their size and listed status.

David Wood, the director of technical policy at ICAS, said: "Three sets of standards is not sustainable. The long-term agenda is clear, so we should start moving [towards one set] sooner rather than later."

But the BCC said the requirement would cause chaos and called for a regulatory "impact assessment". A spokesman said: "Our members would not be overly delighted. It would cost more money and would not help them be competitive."

The CBI added that any change should be delayed for several years. Its company affairs director, Clive Endrupt, said: "It is still all so new that even thinking about extending IFRS to other companies is too soon."

Meanwhile, accountancy firm PKF has revealed that 56 per cent of companies listed on the Alternative Investment Market do not think the costs of switching to IFRS is worth the benefits.