News story

Government proposes new rules to save SMEs £millions in reporting and accountancy fees

The consultation on _Audit Exemptions and Change of Accounting Framework _sets out plans to allow more small companies and subsidiaries to decide…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The consultation on _Audit Exemptions and Change of Accounting Framework _sets out plans to allow more small companies and subsidiaries to decide whether or not to have an audit. **

Current EU rules mean that to classify as ‘small’ for accounting purposes, a company must comply with two out of three criteria relating to their turnover, balance sheet total and number of employees. However, to obtain an audit exemption in the UK, small companies must fulfil both the balance sheet and turnover criteria. Under the new proposals, UK SMEs would be eligible for audit exemption by meeting any two of the three criteria, saving them an estimated £206m per year. **

The Government is also proposing to introduce legislation in 2012 to exempt most subsidiary companies from mandatory audit, provided their parent is prepared to guarantee their debts. Savings are estimated at £406m per year. **

In total, removing this EU gold plating could save UK businesses £612m per year. These moves are part of the Government’s wider focus on cutting red tape and reducing unnecessary burdens on business, in particular addressing the impact of European legislation.**

Additionally, following the consultation by the UK Accounting Standards Board on changes to UK Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (UK GAAP), the Government is also seeking views on whether to allow companies which currently prepare accounts under International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) more flexibility to change their accounting framework to UK GAAP. **

The Minister responsible for Corporate Governance, Edward Davey, said:**

“Over time, both the volume and costs of reporting requirements for UK companies have increased, and businesses have stressed to us the need for more flexible and targeted rules. Tackling these problems now will save UK SMEs millions every year and give them more opportunities to expand and grow their business. **

“Audit is very valuable for many companies. But the proposals we’ve published today are aimed at removing EU gold plating and freeing up enterprise, which ultimately benefits the whole UK economy and will help put us on the path to long-term, sustainable growth. So I encourage businesses to read the consultation document and share their views with us.”**

In March 2011 the Chancellor and Business Secretary published The Plan for Growth. One of the Plan’s ambitions is to ensure the UK ranks among the best places in Europe to start and grow a business. In order to achieve this, the Government is committed to removing regulatory burdens and improving corporate governance

The consultation launched today covers the whole of the UK and will close on 29 December 2011.

Notes to editors:

  1. At present, EU rules mean a company must comply with two out of three criteria in order to be classified as ‘small’ for accounting purposes:
    • no more than 50 employees;
    • balance sheet total no more than £3.26 million;
    • no more than £6.5 million in turnover
  2. The consultation document, response form and contact details are available at
  3. The Plan for Growth is available at
  4. For both audit exemptions and the change of accounting framework, it is proposed that changes will apply for accounting years ending on or after 1 October 2012**
  5. The consultation is relevant to companies and LLPs who are currently subject to mandatory audit, business associations, academics, investors, credit rating agencies, banks, audit and accounting professionals and legal advisers
  6. BIS’s online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See []( for more information

Notes to Editors

Contact Information

Name BIS Press Office Job Title

Division COI Phone




Name Una Flynn Job Title

Division Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Phone 020 7215 5256 Fax



Published 6 October 2011