Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Audit Commission Criticises Quality of Public Sector Accounts

The Audit Commission has identified that councils do not take the process of preparing, or publishing, their accounts seriously enough.

The Commission noted that 25% of submitted accounts have to be resubmitted, because of significant errors.

The Commission highlighted "significant" departures from UK GAAP, the Commission is also concerned at the delay in bringing the local government systems into line with UK standards.


  1. Sounds like an incisive and challenging piece of work by the Commission. Good to know that the Commssion employs such bright people. Good to know that so many of their trainees study CIPFA.

  2. The National Audit Office (NAO) have a clear and organised trainee policy - ICAEW only?

    The Audit Commission appears to have no intelligible training policy (see FAQ No 16 on their site).

    I do not claim to know much about CIPFA but I draw the conclusion that the NAO prefer the ICAEW.

  3. Jasper,

    NAO also use ACCA.

  4. Hi Anon 9.33 AM

    Do you mean they use ACCA, train ACCA or both?

  5. Both. I also know CIPFA Accountants in NAO.

  6. NAO current policy on trainees, certainly graduate trainees, is ICAEW only.

    I know a senior NAO ex employee, recently retired, without any formal qualification.

    Individual accountants are, in general or in particular, brilliant, competent or otherwise; regardless of any qualiication they do, or do not, hold.

    Many ICAEW members are concerned, for example, that CIMA as an Institute is significantly inferior, as are are many of its members (especially those newly admitted since the lowering of their examination standards).

  7. Jasper


    see paragraph 4

  8. Hi Anon,

    I'm enjoying your interest.

    My definitive refs are to the NAO whereas your ref is to the Audit Commission.

    I expect you know that that the NAO audits the Audit Commission.

    To the best of my knowledge NAO is by far the most competent of the Government bodies concerned with accounts and value for money - and they favour the ICAEW.

    Are you ACCA, CIPFA, both and/or something else?

  9. Hi Anon,

    Apologies, the last post was from Jasper.

  10. 'To the best of my knowledge'. Words fail me. I thought that professional accountants based their conclusions on demonstrable evidence.

    The most obvious point is that one body favours ICAEW, the other favours CIPFA and a consolidated Institute would thus have pretty much that whole sector covered in the UK.

  11. Words certainly do fail you; as does logic.

  12. Every profession/membership have some bad apples.....so lets stop pretending we are all angels!!!

  13. Hi Anon 4.37 PM

    ICAEW has been around for 125 years. Many think a merger is neither necessary nor desirable.

    I have looked at the facts and I given some good reasons why CIMA are not in the premier league?

    I have said that that I know little about CIPFA though it does worry me that NAO favour ICAEW when there is a specialised qualification - which ought to be more appropriate.

    Demonstrable evidence does not always lead to a correct conclusion (look at the conjectures and false proofs of some of the great mathematicians and most powerful minds from history).
    In this case the demonstrable (ie historical) evidence does not suggest a merger will succeed.

    ICAEW councils are traditionally unresponsive, unreasonable and selfish. If a merger were to happen, there would be little or no attention paid to any upstart minnows which were swallowed.

  14. Jasper

    Your comments re the Council are right on the nail.

    The "merger" proposal allows for Council to increase from 90 to over 100.


    The size of Council must be cut to no more than 12.

    There was a vote on cutting them down to 40, sometime ago.

    This vote was passed.

    Yet Council ignored it.

    Who do they work for?

    Not us that's for sure!

    When this merger proposal has been consigned to the dustbin of history, it will be time for the membership to cut Council down to size.


  15. Ken,

    I think that a council of 30 might be about right - it very much depends upon how the working committees would function?

  16. Anom

    see my earlier post re "Cutting Council Down To Size".

    I honestly think that 12 is max.


  17. Ken,

    I could envisage it working with 12; however, if there were ever to be an effective council I would not want to see individuals stay too long or retire too soon.

  18. Agreed.

    The first task though is the toughest, removing the current 90 odd (odd meaning approximate number, not "odd in nature"!)occupants!


  19. "CIMA are not in the premier league"!!!

    Arrogant in the extreme.

  20. If your sound is on: try this.


    It is recommended that ICAEW members toss a suitable coin before casting their merger vote.

    If it lands:
    HEADS - vote for the merger,
    TAILS - vote against the merger.
    Or, vice versa, if it takes your whim.
    This is the certain way to win for those in favour of stopping of stopping the merger.

    If, however, you would like this matter put to rest (hopefully, for the rest of this century); then forget tossing the coin. Just excercise your VETO and VOTE NO.

    CIMA are assuredly inferior and if a needless merger with CIPFA is avoided that will end this round of futile incompetence.

  22. Jasper,

    please vote no. There is no way I want my forward looking Institute merged with backward looking snobs like you.

  23. Champions are superior but that does not of itself make them snobs.
    I am only the champion of a cause and that does not make me a snob.

  24. You may be championing a cause, but you also dismissing others as inferior. That makes your statement snobbish.

  25. Professor Ribenboim stated that the most "innumerate" people of the world are of a certain tribe in Mato Grosso, Brazil. They do not even have a word to express the number "two" or the concept of plurality.

    To digress for just a moment; go to www.cimaglobal.com and type "annual review 2004" (without the inverted commas) in the search box (top right), then press RETURN. Then click on the first item and go to the PDF version of that 2004 report.

    Please note that it commences at page 3! (see opening paragraph above). Now go to page 25 and look at the Membership (000s) graph - where the colours are (in error) transposed.
    Read the report. The grammar is unworthy of a schoolboy/girl.The content is drivel - and they apparently have coined a new accounting term (can anyone else spot it?).

    So CIMA are innumerate, illiterate, colour blind,know and care little aboutlaw and are allowed to take forever to qualify with low standard examinations which may be passed one
    at a time.

    Jasper is correct. CIMA , as an Instititute, is inferior.

  26. As I said, snobs.

    I'm off to deal with accountants who add value, not do audit.

  27. Look at the Chairs/CEOs/FDs of the top corporates - how many are CIMA, CIPFA or ACCA? Then comment on the facts. Jasper may well be a snob, cad, bounder and far worse - but is he right?

  28. Surely this is not right. CIMA's chief exec/sec is FCA. Its education wallah is a CA, so what qualifications do the other senior officials have. In particular is anyone a CIMA member who feels a need to respond to the comments above?

  29. There is only 1 CIMA member that I know of in a top position. The rest are personnel specialists etc.

    Who is the CA?

  30. Robert Jelly is the CA. What is the name and specialism of the CIMA member you know of?

  31. He is the head of Finance. John Windle.

  32. CIMA's Director of Professional Standards is Peter Douglas FCA.

    I have not been able to find the details of all the directors; but doesn't the Head of Finance report to a director.

    Looks like the real Chartered Accountants have already made a mockery of CIMA.

  33. A Doubter,

    You said "Looks like the real Chartered Accountants have already made a mockery of CIMA"

    What have ICAS got to do with this?

  34. R Jelly CA has now instigated changes to make future CIMA examinations even easier.

  35. In short - yes. Poor didums....

    The new exams now have 20 minutes reading time added.

    There will be a guide on how candidates should allocate their time.

    The questions will be clearer - the actual requirements will be contained in separate boxes.

    R Jelly, and the other incompetent outsiders are still at CIMA.

    So, CIMA employ the least competent FCAs/CA who are obviously preferred to their own sub-stanard FCMAs.

    Ken, if you want to win, I think you have to be hard-faced and brutal. What about getting a REAL journalist to investigate and report. That would surely throw light on the blilliance of all three councils.

    Also have you read the classic (CIMA 2004 Report) yet?

  36. Adoubter, thanks for that.

    Re getting a "real" journalist, well there has been some coverage of the merger issue in FT, Accountancy, Accountancy Age and on the ACCA site.

    However, I doubt that the media will take much more interest in this until the day or so before the vote.

    Feel free to get the media to report/investigate, I have tried to keep them up to speed; but I don't think they are that interested.

    I haven't got round to reading the CIMA report yet.


  37. Ken,

    I'm not at all sure that ACCA are any/much better.

    (1) Like CIMA, they also have more students than members.

    (2) Can they also pass one exam at a time???????

    (3) It was said, and not denied, that CIPFA and CIMA members of short standing can join ACCA "merely" by application.

    Perhaps the "News of the World" or someone from ICAS might take a serious interest?

  38. I have just read Michelle Perrry's July Consolidation piece on ACCA's site.

    I particularly note the last paragraph. That a freelance journalist cannot check her facts is one thing. It is of quite a different order that ACCA know so little of ICAEW that they publish such nonsense.

    I also recall that in the late 1990's ACCA tried a direct takeover of CIMA. What charming professional ethics?

    I commend ICAS to all new English trainees. They seem to be the only Institute unstained and unscathed.

  39. Many NHS Primary Care Trusts are forecasting large deficits; many NHS finance staff and Directors of Finance are ACA / FCA.

    Local councils manage their finances, as required by good practice and incidentally, bylaw; many of their finance staff and Directors of Finance are CPFA.