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ICAEW Manifesto 2024

ICAEW's vision for a renewed and resilient UK

Policy recommendations for the next government

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An economy fit for the future

With a parliamentary election due in 2024 the UK faces major decisions about the shape and direction of its future economy. ICAEW's manifesto draws on the insights and expertise of our members in making a call to action for the next government. It sets out our vision for a resilient future UK economy that is: productive, highly skilled, sustainable, innovative, resilient, trustworthy and leading on trade.
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Key areas of focus


Productivity: Make the UK the best place to start, run and grow a business. Provide long-term certainty for business and remove obstacles to growth.

Skills: Make it easier for workers to gain the strategic skills of the future and for employers to access a skilled and diverse workforce.

Sustainability: Show bold global leadership on net zero and financing the green transition. Lead on the transition technologies that will power growth.

Innovation: Develop the skills and standards to lead on AI. Invest in the technologies where the UK can lead the world.

Resilience: Ensure public administration is effective to unleash potential. Urgently address the resilience of central and local public finances.

Trust: Secure trust in companies to encourage investment in the UK. Champion world-leading corporate governance, reporting and regulation and tackle economic crime.

Trade: Devise trade policies that promote services and create opportunities for SMEs to export. Give the UK’s vital services sector the prominence it deserves in trade.

 

Detailed recommendations

  • Productivity

    A vision for UK industry to support businesses

    • Articulate a new vision for UK industry.  
    • Host a national competition to award hub status. 
    • Establish a national supply side commission. 


    Research, development and investment

    • Increase target R&D investment beyond 3% of GDP.
    • Start a new competition for integrated regional hubs to target R&D incentives.
    • Equip the Small Business Commissioner to investigate R&D barriers. 


    Starting, running and growing a business 

    • Introduce business start-up passports. 
    • Reintroduce growth vouchers and increase the threshold for British Business Bank start-up loans. 
    • Create a taskforce on business banking. 
    • Signpost and communicate advice and guidance to investors on changes to DC pension funds.


    Smarter regulation

    • Provide a regulation roadmap.  
    • Establish a permanent body accountable directly to parliament for the regulatory framework. 
    • Develop ICAEW's guiding principles for regulators and government.


    Tax strategy

    • Publish an overarching tax strategy including a tax simplification roadmap.  
    • Address gaps in digital tax services to improve data access for agents. 
    • Invest in HMRC to address poor service standards.
  • Skills

    Securing talent and upskilling

    • Publish an overall skills strategy including a plan to promote digital skills competencies and skills to promote the green transition.
    • Develop an automated national skills map to enable individuals to map current competencies to career opportunities. 
    • Set up a national standard for financial and tech literacy in schools. 


    Access to labour

    • Extend the success of apprenticeships by providing more flexibility to businesses.  
    • Evolve the Shortage Occupation Llist.


    Access to the workplace 

    • Reaffirm and extend commitment to childcare measures. 
    • Review the welfare and tax system to reduce cliff edges.
    • Promote best practice in supporting equity and social mobility.
  • Sustainability

    Road to net zero

    • Deliver a net zero investment strategy in a wider whole-economy transition plan for the UK. 
    • Introduce a net zero delivery tracker. 
    • Prioritise close consultation with industry to provide clarity on the details of the CBAM levy.


    Green finance

    • Position London as the world’s first net zero, just and nature positive financial centre.
    • Review ESG definitions and deliver the promised UK green taxonomy.
    • Complete the Edinburgh reforms.

  • Innovation

    AI innovation and skills

    • Develop trust frameworks for data sharing.  
    • Work with businesses to scope the best ways to incentivise the use of AI.
    • Publish a comprehensive new AI digital skills and technology plan for businesses. 
    • Outline a specific AI skills plan for SMEs.


    AI safety

    • Design an AI governance framework. 
    • Equip the regulator with powers to institute an independent, third-party review of AI use.
    • Facilitate an ethical framework for AI developers, deployers and users.


    Crypto and digital assets

    • Define standards providing clear guidance on digital assets including valuation, safeguarding and audit.
    • Ensure individuals can exercise their data protection/privacy rights in a blockchain environment.
    • Support sandboxes to encourage investment and development of digital assets. 
  • Resilience

    Public finances

    • Communicate a long-term fiscal strategy for the public finances.
    • Require each government department to have a CFO.
    • Take action to strengthen internal audit, the NAO and Select Committees.

    Local authority funding and accounts

    • Adopt ICAEW’s vision of local audit.
    • Put greater investment and skills training into local authority finance teams.
    • Make local accounts more accessible for scrutiny.
    • Commit to replace competitive bidding with stable long-term funding.

     

  • Trust

    Corporate governance, reporting and audit reform

    • Commit to UK exceeding OECD corporate governance minimum standards.
    • Introduce primary legislation to establish and provide statutory funding for a statutory regulator in the next parliament.
    • Introduce for public interest entities reporting requirements on resilience, mitigation of fraud risk and on the implementation of an audit & assurance policy.

    Accountability and trust

    • Equip trusted intermediaries such as the Small Business Commissioner to champion the collective interest of the UK’s SMEs.
    • Protect the public by restricting use of the term ‘accountant in public practice’ to those registered with a recognised supervisory body.

    Corporate reporting standard setting

    • Show leadership on sustainability by alignment with ISSB standards.
    • Review the content of the annual report to make sure content is relevant, useful and avoids duplication.

    Economic crime and fraud

    • Prioritise implementation of the Economic Crime Plan 2 and the ECCT Act.
    • Give Companies House the resources it needs to fulfil its new regulatory role.
    • Conclude the AML review and introduce the OPBAS+ model.
  • Trade

    Trade in services

    • Signal government’s high-level trade vision for professional services and other services sectors.
    • Promote MRPQ in all new FTAs and instruct regulators to work with professional bodies.

    UK/EU trade

    • Commit to publishing a new vision for UK-EU trade in the next parliament.

    Trade administration, promotion and education

    • Expedite projects to improve the administration of importing and exporting.
    • Improve trade promotion by adopting a more targeted approach focused on market-leading service sectors and countries with established relationships.
    • Increase the visibility of UK Export Academy and E-Commerce Trade Commission resources.
Read the manifesto in full
Mark Rhys, ICAEW President
ICAEW President's introduction

ICAEW's priorities for the next UK government

"A series of 'once-in-a-lifetime' shocks in quick succession over the past 15 years has shown that the UK economy is less resilient than it should be. We hope the next government will find our recommendations helpful in taking the bold actions necessary to achieve the economic resilience and economic renewal our members are calling for." Mark Rhys, ICAEW President

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Built on member insights

ICAEW members guide three million UK businesses, practices and charities everyday and their experiences are at the heart of our manifesto.
Our members will continue to shape our thinking on these key issues. Read the latest member insights.

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