Last week, the Bank of England stepped in with rescue measures to prevent a crisis in UK pension funds. For most people who expect to depend on a pension fund for their financial well-being – either now or in the future – news of the crisis came at the same time as news of the rescue, so we were reassured even before we knew that we needed to panic. But the rescue arrangements end on 14 October. Pension fund managers, and those who oversee them, have just 10 days to get things sorted if the problem isn’t to start up again.
NI rise won’t pay for social care reforms
I keep reading that the government is planning to increase National Insurance contributions “to fund social care reform”. I really don’t think that’s correct. I don’t doubt that the government is planning to increase NI contributions. And that it is also planning to improve social care. But I question the idea that the one can really be said to be paying for the other.
Accountants in a tangle with Webb
Regular readers of this blog must be sick to death by now of me repeating how much damage accounting standards are doing to pension schemes (here, here, here and, even on video, here). So I’ll be brief this time – very, very brief. There is finally light at the end of the accounting tunnel.Read more
You mean we’re NOT supposed to avoid tax?
Tax avoidance has become a hot topic. The Times newspaper has recently unmasked a scheme in which income tax is avoided by the ludicrously simple means of saying the salary is only a loan which might have to be repaid (but never actually is). One of the newspaper’s columnists, David Aaronovitch, has been writing about the immorality of tax avoidance (both links behind a paywall).
I used to think it was easy to spot the moral dividing line when it came to tax avoidance. If our government had created the exemption, that meant they positively wanted us to take advantage of it. Anything else was almost certainly a loophole and morally objectionable, even if it was legal. But does that distinction still apply?Read more
Shoot the messenger!
Financial accounts are supposed to enable readers to understand the financial position of the entity under review. But, yesterday, the National Association of Pension Funds published a report attacking the notion that accounts provide neutral and reliable information about an employer’s pension scheme liabilities. The critique, written for the NAPF by Dr Iain Clacher and Professor Peter Moizer of Leeds University Business School, is pretty damning of the standard setters.Read more
What equal pay teaches us about the Human Rights Act
The European courts have been causing controversy (again). Judgements handed down in Brussels and Strasbourg have left conservatives (small “c”) aghast and Liberals (big and small “L”) defending the rights-based approach. But scratch beneath the surface and, often, it’s not the rights that objectors object to. The problem is that, so often, the rights awarded in Europe aren’t what we were led to expect when those rights were introduced.Read more
Accountants becoming effective?
I think the three words at the end of the following sentence must be the most chilling – and the most heart-warming – I have ever read from an accounting standard-setter:Read more
It’s very disconcerting …
… to be giving a presentation whilst the audience is tweeting their comments onto a screen behind your head. Perhaps that’s going to be the way of the future.Read more
The Hutton Contribution
I had always thought that employee contributions into a pension scheme were a mistaken idea. Should I be re-thinking that in the light of Hutton’s report out today? Or should Lord Hutton?Read more
Time to start thinking again, I think
Lindsay Tomlinson is calling for a summit to change the way pension costs are calculated in company accounts. As chairman of the National Association of Pension Funds, Tomlinson would say that, wouldn’t he? Except that Lindsay Tomlinson is also a director of the Financial Reporting Council, the parent body for the UK’s accounting standard-setters.Read more