ICAS submits letter to new Secretary of State for Business and Trade, Kemi Badenoch MP
Dear Secretary of State
Congratulations on your appointment as Secretary of State for Business and Trade. We are sure you are relishing the challenge ahead.
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. We therefore feel that there are two important matters which you need to address urgently: audit and corporate governance reform and sustainability in financial reporting.
Audit and Corporate Governance Reform
We are deeply concerned about the long delays in publishing the Government’s Audit and Corporate Governance Reform Bill. We understand that a Bill won’t be formally introduced until the next Parliamentary session, which means October 2023 at the very earliest. The need for these reforms has never been clearer and these proposals have been almost 5 years in the making. We urge you to bring forward these incredibly important reforms for enhanced financial accountability and governance without delay and publish a draft Bill and Statutory Instruments before the autumn. This will send a clear message to everyone in the business and finance sectors that this Government is serious about upholding only the most ethical 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. Sustainability reporting will be strengthened where external assurance is secured from an independent professional who is subject to excellent performance, quality management and ethical and independence standards. Establishing a level playing field in the assurance space, where all actors play by the same rules will help to prevent ‘greenwashing’. We need government action to make it happen.
With action on these issues, we will build a more sustainable, ethical, UK corporate environment, that continues to promote 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.
J Bruce Cartwright CA