Corporate Accountability Network Audit Briefing: The Provocations – Issues to be considered when appraising the government’s next suggestions for audit reform

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As I have noted previously on this blog, the Corporate Accountability Network, which I direct, is publishing a series of Audit Briefings that discuss the need for audit reform in the UK. The background to this series is noted here.

This note is being written at a time when it is anticipated that the government’s response to its consultation paper on the future of accounting and auditing in the UK (BEIS 2021) will be issued shortly.

The first draft of the new paper I am publishing today was written before that BEIS consultation was published, which explains the focus of attention in what follows on not just what the government proposed in 2021, but what was proposed in earlier consultation papers. Those earlier consultations heavily informed proposals that the government made.

The likelihood is that any new suggestions to be made by the government might embrace not only its own 2021proposals, but also those which were made in earlier consultations, and those which have arisen as a result of responses provided to it during the course of 2021, including those submitted by the Corporate Accountability Network. Details of all these consultation documents are included in the references noted in Section 4 of today's report.

The purpose of this new note is, in that case, to go back to the fundamental underlying assumptions implicit within all the government consultation documents that have been produced to date with regard to accounting and audit reform to demonstrate that many of these proposals are implausible given the reality of the state of the accounting profession, its history and its relationship with auditing.

The intention is to lay out a series of what are described as provocations. These are intended to be the basis of appraisal for whatever proposals the government might now make, which suggests the timeliness of producing this briefing at this moment.

The briefing is available here.