Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (UK)

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Generally Accepted Accounting Practice in the UK, or UK GAAP, is the overall body of regulation establishing how company accounts must be prepared in the United Kingdom. This includes not only accounting standards, but also UK company law.

Generally acepted accounting practice is a statutory term in the UK Taxes Acts.[1] The abbreviation "UK GAAP" is also accepted as an abbreviation for the term used in other jurisdictions, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or Generally Accepted Accounting Policies.[2]

Contents

History

Accounting standards derive from a number of sources. The chief standard-setter is the Accounting Standards Board (ASB), which issues standards called Financial Reporting Standards (FRS). The ASB is part of the Financial Reporting Council, an independent regulator funded by a levy on listed companies,[3] and it replaced the Accounting Standards Committee (ASC), which was disbanded in 1990 following a number of criticisms of its work. To the extent that the ASC's pronouncements, known as Statements of Standard Accounting Practice (SSAPs), have not been replaced by FRS, they remain in force.[4]

Process for setting standards

The ASB has a formal exposure process for proposed standards. Early concepts are issued as Discussion Papers. These are released to the public and comments invited. Where a new standard is to be proposed, a Financial Reporting Exposure Draft (FRED) is released for comment. The standard in final form is only issued when comments have been incorporated or addressed. This aims to address the criticisms levelled at the ASC, whose comment process was less rigorous.

Issues that require an immediate solution are considered by the Urgent Issues Task Force (UITF). The UITF comprises a number of senior figures from industry and accounting firms. It meets as necessary to consider pressing issues and issues Abstracts which become binding immediately.

Legislation

The principal legislation governing reporting in the UK is laid down in the Companies Act 2006, which incorporates the requirements of European law. The Companies Act sets out certain minimum reporting requirements for companies and, for example, requires limited companies to file their accounts with the Registrar of Companies who makes them available to the general public.

From 2005, this framework changed as a result of European law requiring that all listed European companies report under International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs). In the UK, companies which are not listed have the option to report either under IFRSs or under UK GAAP.[5] Recently issued UK FRSs have, in any case replicated the wording of corresponding IFRSs, reducing the differences between the two sets of standards significantly.

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