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Superannuation check: don't try this at home!

From Chris Howe

Foxley Kingham chartered accountants, Luton

I write regarding the article by Dr Couch on superannuation forms (Financial, 11 May). My comments are brief because I am already busy trying to reconcile superannuation in 2006 accounts for my clients!

The whole new superannuation system was badly implemented and it was left to us accountants to sort out the mess. The guidance was late, unclear and did not cover well-known tricky areas.

I spent hundreds of hours (unpaid) researching this issue and thinking through problem areas as they arose on my clients' accounts work. Because of the huge complications that superannuation added to the preparation of practice accounts and tax returns last year, my firm also carried out about £50,000 of unpaid work for our clients.

We were interested in getting our clients' superannuation and hence pensions as correct as possible (note there can be many 'correct' interpretations of a GP's superannuation calculations).

Dr Couch suggests bearing in my mind that a fee of around £200 was paid and hence GPs should expect absolute accuracy. What planet has he been on for the last three years?

The true cost of preparing each superannuation certificate last year probably exceeded £1,000, but we only charged our clients a nominal fee. To suggest GPs attempt to complete these forms themselves is poor financial advice.

You are welcome to try ­ it will save me a poorly-paid headache!

Editor replies: No time to prepare, unclear guidance, being left to sort out the mess ­ welcome to the NHS! The article was intended to focus GPs on this thorny issue as

the problems experienced so far are not going to go away

on their own. As for the last point ­ when did clients

and accountants ever agree on fees?

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