Operating and Financial Reviews used by top firms despite government indifference

The government’s oft-sidelined Operating and Financial Reviews (OFRs) are still being used by half of FTSE 100 companies more than a year after chancellor Gordon Brown’s controversial double U-turn, it has emerged.

OFRs were designed to sit alongside companies’ annual reports, listing future risks and opportunities, including environmental and employee concerns.

Having decided that this was the way forward, in November 2005, Brown did a U-turn and abolished the long-held plans to make OFRs a legal requirement for listed companies, deciding they were a “disproportionate burden” on firms.

That move was widely seen as a blow for HR. Duncan Brown, assistant director-general at the CIPD, said at the time: “I am very disappointed and don’t understand this decision at all. It will slow down how companies demonstrate how important their people are to them.”

The chancellor then did another U-turn and promised to re-evaluate them after the threat of legal action from environmental charity Friends of the Earth.

A consultation followed and was welcomed by employers. However, while the consultation period finished in March 2006, little had been heard of OFRs since.

But OFRs have now resurfaced. A report by corporate research charity Tomorrow’s Company has found that 48 FTSE 100 firms have a report they call an OFR.

Mark Goyder, director at Tomorrow’s Company, said: “We have long believed that the discipline of inclusive reporting is a spur to better governance and better decision making, which benefits shareholders and ultimately customers in the marketplace.”

A spokesman for the DTI confirmed that OFRs remained “both voluntary and non-compulsory”.

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