Personnel Today wanted to find out how much the Accounting for People taskforce cost. Here is the DTI’s response.
26 May 2005
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT: REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
I refer to your e-mail of 29 March regarding the recommendations and cost of the Accounting for People taskforce.
The total cost of the task force was approximately £277,000. Of this, approximately £20,000 was the cost of publishing and distributing the final report.
Regarding payments to individual taskforce members, Denise Kingsmill, head of the taskforce, was paid an honorarium of £20,000 for her work on the taskforce.
The bulk of the cost of the taskforce as accounted for by the cost of the external support team, which provided administrative support, conducted research and produced papers for the taskforce and drafted the consultation document and the report.
Regarding payments of expenses to taskforce members, some members received reimbursement for incidental expenses such as rail fares. As the amounts were small and few in number, they were not accounted for separately. Therefore, the information cannot be easily retrieved and would exceed the £600 limit on providing information as prescribed by section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act.
If you are dissatisfied with the decision above made in relation to this aspect of your request, you may write to me to ask for an internal review. Should you seek such a review, and if you were dissatisfied with the outcome, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
Information Commissioner’s Office
Cheshire SK9 5AF
On the more general point, we believe it is incorrect to say that the recommendations of the Accounting for People taskforce were ignored in the Operating and Financial Review (OFR) Regulations. The recommendations linked to the OFR have largely been implemented.
All companies preparing an OFR will need to consider their employment policies and practices. We have made it clear that we expect that most, if not all, will consider that some aspects of employment are relevant to an understanding of the company. But it will be for the directors of each company to review and identify the relevant factors in their particular case.
If they decide that employee matters are not relevant, the OFR must specifically state that such information is not included. This will make it clear to shareholders that the directors have taken a conscious decision that certain information is not relevant. The directors will have to be prepared to justify their decision to shareholders if they are challenged. In the context of the OFR as a whole, explanations of why companies didn’t consider various issues material could be longer than the rest of the OFR and only serve to confuse readers.
The Accounting Standards Board has developed an OFR standard, using an advisory group involving people with relevant experience of the areas covered by the OFR. The OFR standard gives guidance on including information on employee matters, and the Accounting for People report itself of course provides excellent guidance on reporting on human capital management matters.
It is important to remember, however, that this is very much an area where best practice is still developing. As the Accounting for People taskforce found, as yet there is no ‘gold standard’ or generally accepted standard set of indicators. The taskforce did not believe it was right to stifle the development of truly meaningful human capital management reporting by proposing a fixed set of indicators and criteria that must be followed by all.
The first OFRs produced under the OFR regulations will not be available for more than a year. It would be difficult to make a meaningful judgement on how human capital management reporting, and the OFR as a whole, is developing after only two or three reporting cycles. That is why we have envisaged a review of human capital management reporting, in the context of the OFR more generally, on a longer timescale.
If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.
Director of communications
Department of Trade and Industry