Counting on change - ICAS General Election 2015 Manifesto

ICAS launched its General Election 2015 Manifesto, Counting on Change, on 25 March at a breakfast debate in Westminster, with a series of calls to political parties on economic growth, pensions, tax, supporting business and protecting the consumer.

We believe that we are at a point in time where it has never been more important for our political leaders and our business leaders to work together to deliver transformational change for the benefit of society.

The UK and global economies remain in a perilous place. The next five years will be crucial. We need stewardship and leadership which tackles the deep rooted issues on Britain's balance sheet. We need to rebalance the economy in a way that delivers the conditions for long term sustainable economic growth and wealth creation.

Watch our exclusive General Election debate on demand


Download the ICAS Manifesto Counting on Change PDF [1,703 KB] (PDF)
Download the ICAS Manifesto Supporting Document PDF [204 KB] (PDF) 

Our key policy positions are set out on this page.

A vision for our economy

Maximum Focus on Sustainable, Economic Growth 

ICAS believes that the next Government must give a maximum focus to sustainable economic growth. It is the key to delivering a fairer, more prosperous society and balancing Britain's books.

  • This means creating a stable, trusted business environment which will encourage investment, innovation and enterprise.
  • The next Government should encourage a step change in British exporting.
  • It should act to increase the business birth rate and encourage business growth.
  • It should encourage the adoption of a sustainable business approach that incorporates the environmental and social impacts of business activities as well as the financial and economic impacts.
  • Government, business and the education sector need to work more closely together to ensure that British business has the right mix of skills available for the challenges of today and the opportunities of tomorrow.

A simplified tax system

This will be easier for business, easier to understand and easier to collect.

  • Tax simplification must be at the core of any future government's fiscal policy.
  • A clearer, long term strategy for our tax system is required rather than short term tinkering.
  • Policy-making road maps should set out the longer term vision of, for example, levelling the rates of tax on business profits across companies, partnerships and individuals.
  • The Office of Tax Simplification should be reconstituted and strengthened.
  • It is time to take a fresh look at the regime for VAT in the public services.
  • Measures need to be brought forward to reduce the burdens of tax compliance for businesses.

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Wider availability of finance for SMEs

This will drive growth in the economy, increase employment and create wealth.

  • More focus should be given towards the supply of long term finance, particularly debt finance, for growing firms.
  • In our experience, those wishing to borrow £100k to £1million experience most difficulty.
  • The British Business Bank should examine demand stimulation measures.
  • A one stop shop should help businesses navigate potential funding sources and where to find advice.
  • Government should undertake a review of the effectiveness and targeting of tax reliefs such as the Enterprise Investment Scheme in supporting business investment, with a view to introducing simple improvements. This might include consideration of introducing tax relief on interest on longer term personal loans in EIS qualifying companies.
  • The Government should invest to make a step change in the availability of mentoring to support entrepreneurs and start-up businesses.

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A pensions system that will endure for the long term

This is essential to improve the savings culture and help our pensioners live better in their retirement.

  • ICAS broadly supports recent pension reforms but believes it could take a generation to establish fully whether these reforms have met their policy objectives.  The next Government should establish and monitor the achievement of milestones along the way.
  • The Government should innovate to help citizens confront earlier in their working lives what retirement income they might expect from their current level of saving.  This could include some form of online toolkit to help predict individuals' pension outcomes.
  • The Government now needs to create a stable and effective regulatory environment to give pension providers the confidence to enter the market with new products to support 'Freedom and Choice' in pensions.
  • Good pension scheme governance should be supported by principles-based regulation where regulatory creep is avoided and a tick-box approach discouraged.

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Better protection for consumers of accountancy services

Ensure that all those who provide accountancy and taxation services are qualified and regulated.

  • ICAS calls on the next government to end the anomaly of regulated and non-regulated accountants.
  • Measures should be brought forward, in the consumer interest, to ensure that all those who provide accountancy and taxation services must be qualified and be part of the regulated environment.
  • This would bring accountants in line with doctors and lawyers and improve standards for the consumer.
  • In a survey carried out for ICAS by IPSOS Mori 50% of the public were unaware that many of Britain's accountants were unqualified and not regulated.
  • More than 90% of the public believe that all accountants should be qualified and regulated.

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  • Political landscape

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