Finance News: Accountants criticise rise in audit threshold

John Plummer

Finance directors and accountants have clashed over a recommendation to double the audit-exemption threshold for charities to £500,000.

The parliamentary committee scrutinising the draft Charities Bill called for the threshold to be raised from £250,000 to £500,000.

Richard Martin, head of financial reporting at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, described the move as "illogical" and said it would create confusion among both donors and charities that would have to grapple with a range of auditing requirements depending on their size and status.

"Accountability and transparency are of crucial importance in increasing public confidence in the charity sector," he said. "This, in turn, should encourage more donations of money, time and other resources from the public."

But Sophie Chapman, policy officer at the Charity Finance Directors' Group, welcomed the prospect of charities earning less than £500,000 a year being spared an auditor's visit. She estimated it would save small charities between £3,000 and £5,000 a year and doubted whether charities shared Martin's fears.

"Charities would much rather be confused than have to pay the full cost of an audit," she said. "And, if they are confused, they can contact the Charity Commission."

The CFDG also expressed delight at the committee's recommendation to relax trading laws, which it estimates could save charities up to £30,000 a year.

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