Audit watchdog hikes business levy by 8.5pc

THE UK’S audit watchdog has announced plans to hike levy rates by 8.5 per cent.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC)’s move was criticised by firms yesterday but the regulator said the increase was necessary as it attempts to clear a backlog of cases and deals with extra regulation.

The FRC is upping its budget by 10 per cent for 2013-14 to £24.5m. It charges all firms with revenues or valuations above a certain level.

Accountants hit out at the increase yesterday. “Their costs have gone up significantly and we end up bearing them, while other departments are trying to cut budgets,” Nick Winters, head of audit in London at RSM Tenon, told City A.M.. Sir Michael Snyder, the chairman of industry body the Professional and Business Services Group and a senior partner at Kingston Smith, said: “I don’t see why regulators should be able to levy above inflation increases to add to the burden to business.” An FRC spokesperson said: “The additional funding will strengthen our ability to respond to international demands, to scrutinise emerging issues and to conduct research into the economic and business environment.”

Meanwhile. the results of a probe into the dominance of the big four professional services firms – KPMG, Ernst & Young, PwC and Deloitte – was postponed by the Competition Commission for a second time yesterday. The watchdog may recommend ways to ensure competition in the market, but individuals have suggested that it has not been able to come up with workable proposals.