ATOL Reporting Accountants – new rules

16 May 2016

Many of us spend too long on April 1st each year trying to work out which bizarre stories in the press, on radio or television are true and which are April Fools Jokes, Jeremy Clarkson to stop driving and ride a Boris bike anyone? This year however, for ATOL holders at least, April 1st was an important date but one which many ATOL holders appear to have forgotten.

From that date and going forwards, ATOL holders are required to use an ARA. This is not some new computer system, but actually means an ATOL Reporting Accountant. These ARA’s are meant to be part of the ARA scheme, which began last year and requires all accountants who produce reports for the CAA be members of  a participating accountancy body, register to take the required training and become part of the ARA scheme. It is important to note that the deadline for accountants to participate in the ARA scheme is now very close. 

The ATOL Reporting Accountants' scheme has been developed by the CAA in order to help improve the standard of ATOL reporting and the quality of financial information submitted by ATOL holders. The scheme is designed to ensure that designated accountants of participating bodies are sufficiently knowledgeable about both the industry and specific requirements of ATOL to provide the required reports needed by the CAA. The reality is that in the past, accountants for some travel businesses, whether they monitored the accounts for small or indeed larger firms, didn’t always understand the rules. In some instances, even the travel businesses themselves didn’t always find it easy to understand the rules. 

In future it will be expected that an ARA really does understand what the CAA expects by way of information, and over time this should increase and improve the reporting and hopefully reduce the number of failures. So going forward, excuses like the lack of knowledge or understanding of the rules will no longer be acceptable should false or inaccurate accounts be produced by any ARA. The repercussion being that they would be prevented from acting as an ARA for any other travel business in the future. Large failures can impose huge claims on the Air Travel Trust and ultimately, it is the industry that has to pay. Indeed in future it is likely the government will be less willing to bail out the ATT as it did after the failures of XL and Goldtrail a few years later, so the costs will fall to the industry itself. 

So far so good however, it appears that some accountants are yet to complete the course and there are instances where some accountants who have completed it, want to charge their clients more money as a result. It is important to note that an accountant being an ARA should not, if considered on its own, be a reason for any increase in accountancy costs because the information required by the CAA hasn’t actually changed. The course can be completed online and you can register to train at this address - caa.arascheme@caa.co.uk. Have you spoken to your accountant recently and confirmed they will be an ARA, if not it is time to have that conversation, otherwise like Jeremy Clarkson you could be out of a job and looking for the nearest Boris bike!

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