ICAS submits letter to new First Minister of Scotland
Dear First Minister,
Firstly, congratulations on becoming the new leader of the SNP and of course Scotland’s new First Minister. I want to wish you every success in the role and to offer our support and assistance to you and your team if we can ever be of help. ICAS does already meet with officials in various teams in the Scottish Government and we hope we can continue to be of service. As the first professional accountancy body in the world founded in 1854, The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) has always advocated for an ethical and robust finance and accountancy sector.
It is a challenging time for you to take office, after a hard fought and won campaign, amid a cost-of-living crisis. Although it is good news that the current economic dip isn’t perhaps as severe as many expected, we still need a strong economy to support public sector aspirations.
Although we can see that in the recent budget the Chancellor is trying to be generous in some areas, such as more help with the costs of childcare and keeping the energy cap at current levels for three months, there is a real lack of vision in terms of net zero. The Chancellor said lots on energy security and nuclear power but missed the opportunity to do much more on net zero and produce any kind of road map for the future. We know that this is a huge priority for your government, our members, and for businesses across Scotland and the UK. How much longer can we afford to wait?
Audit and Corporate Governance Reform
We have been talking to the UK Government on several issues over the past year and have impressed on the various Secretaries of State for Business, the need for urgent action on audit and governance reform.
It has now been five years since the collapse of Carillion and almost two years since the Government published the Restoring Trust in Audit and Corporate Governance White Paper. We have urged the UK Government to publish the draft Audit Reform Bill as promised in the Queen’s Speech last year, along with the related statutory instruments without further delay. The need for these reforms has never been clearer and have been five years in the making. We hope you can lend your support and that of the Scottish Government to send a clear message to the UK Government and everyone in the business and finance sectors, the need to uphold only the highest standards.
The UK needs to mandate the use of high-quality, consistent, sustainability reporting standards. We believe that collaboration between the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) can deliver a set of international standards that will satisfy investor needs and the growing public demand for action in this area. However, we believe that government needs to make their use mandatory. We don’t think that voluntary action in this area is appropriate on such a pressing issue.
Establishing a level playing field in the assurance space, where all actors play by the same rules will help to prevent ‘greenwashing’. We need governments to take action to make this happen.
With action on these issues, we will build a more sustainable, ethical, UK corporate environment, that continues to promote Scotland and the UK as a world class place for doing business.
I would be delighted to attend a bilateral meeting with you and your officials in the coming weeks.
Again, the warmest congratulations on your appointment and wishing you all the very best for your term in office.
J Bruce Cartwright