ICAS launches manifesto at election debate
Key issues debated as ICAS unveils 'Counting on Change' General Election manifesto at live online event.
Leading politicians joined CAs for a special General Election Debate at Westminster where ICAS also launched its Counting on Change Manifesto for the forthcoming poll.
Broadcaster Kirsty Wark chaired the live and on demand debate at One Great George Street, and led questions to MPs David Gauke, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Pensions Minister Steve Webb, Scottish National Party Deputy Leader Stewart Hosie, and Gregg McClymont, Labour's Shadow Pensions Minister.
Debate focused on key areas of Counting on Change, which calls for pensions and tax simplification, more funding support for business and increased consumer protection.
ICAS members at the event and watching live challenged the speakers on a range of issues ahead of the election on 8 May.
Conservative MP Mr Gauke said the Tory/Lib Dem coalition government was delivering on its long term economic plan, with difficult decisions needed on spending and welfare.
However, Labour MP Mr McClymont said his party was demonstrating the strongest commitment to redistributing wealth, while Scottish National Party MP Mr Hosie told the audience it was time to "squeeze inequality out of the system" to underpin a growing economy.
Liberal Democrat MP Mr Webb repeated the message that tough measures were needed by the coalition to manage the economy but said there had to be "light at the end of the tunnel" in balancing deficit reduction and ensuring investment.
There were contrasting opinions on tax simplification, with Mr Webb calling for an end to tax changes in the Autumn Statement and Mr Hosie urging a review of tax reliefs, which he said would help to cut complexity.
The MPs also clashed on encouraging economic growth and defence spending.
However, there was more consensus on other topics, including pensions auto-enrolment and promotion of a savings culture.
When the debate moved to regulation within accountancy, Mr Hosie and Mr McClymont revealed their astonishment that anyone could set themselves up as a tax adviser; with Mr Hosie telling the audience he was "gobsmacked" when advised this was the case.
Mr McClymont said he believed the "brand of the CA should be promoted and the matter (of regulation) looked at seriously".