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News in Brief – 5th August

Political gifts law change

Proposed new laws requiring companies to get prior shareholder approval for political donations of £200 or more and disclose them in the directors’ annual report have been announced by home secretary Jack Straw. A new electoral commission will have power to prescribe a standard accounting year and in the run-up to an election CIPFA suspension

David Morton’s CIPFA membership has been suspended following the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings by the institute’s council. Morton, who admitted theft from two previous employers, failed to appeal against his suspension.

His case will be reviewed in five year’s time. Thornton moves on

CIPFA’s assistant policy and technical director Shelley Thornton is leaving to join the Audit Commission as associate director of audit appointments and performance. Thornton is a former audit manager at District Audit.

She will be joined by Keith Douthwaite who has been made associate director of auditor support. Greenall’s large round

Installation of financial software from System Software Associates has been partly blamed for an £8m ‘exceptional item’ within Greenalls Group, the hotel and pubs group.

Companies lose out

Much-diluted 100% capital allowances for Northern Ireland businesses came into force last week. It emerged last month the government had been forced by the European Commission to scale down promised incentives. Large swathes of industry, including agriculture and freight, are now ineligible for them. Late-payment worries fall

Concern among small businesses over late payment has fallen since the Late Payment Act was introduced last November, according to a survey by the Forum of Private Business. ICA updates profit rules

The English ICA has moved to update 20-year old rules dealing with distributable profits. It has produced a draft statement clarifying how much of a company’s profits are available for dividends and the purchase of its own shares. Big firms fly high

Accountancy firms dominated Management Consultancy magazine’s tenth annual survey with five firms in the top ten. PricewaterhouseCoopers was ranked first, earning £420m from consultancy in 1998 – over a third more than the second largest firm, Cap Gemini. Since the table was compiled, PwC added £120m in consultancy fees. KPMG and Andersen Consulting came third and fourth respectively while Ernst & Young and Deloitte Consultancy came sixth and seventh. Arthur Andersen took 14th place. weekly reports will have to be published by parties.

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