Accountancy contributes £59bn to GDP

In the UK, the accountancy profession contributed £59bn to GDP in 2017, while in Ireland the profession’s contribution was equivalent to 4.4% of the economy, according to research from the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB)

The UK data shows £21bn was generated by the activities of the accounting industry, with a further £38bn estimated to have come from ‘in-house’ accountants embedded within other industries throughout the economy.

There were around 613,100 individuals employed in accounting roles in the UK during 2017––of which 432,000 were employed as in-house accountants, while a further 181,000 worked as accounting professionals in specialist accounting practices. Alongside this, the accounting industry employed a further 199,400 staff in non-accountancy roles.

The accounting profession generated an estimated £8.9bn in tax revenue for the Exchequer––1.5% of all HMRC receipts in 2017. This encompasses the income tax and National Insurance contributions paid on the wages of accountants (working in practice and industry), as well other support workers in the accountancy sector. It also includes the business rates, VAT and corporation taxes paid by accounting services firms.

Accounting services worth some £17.7bn were procured by industries across the UK in 2017. This demand, equivalent to 1.1% of all B2B operational purchases in 2017, was mainly met by the UK’s accounting practices. A relatively small amount, with an estimated value of £610m, was made up of imported accounting services.

The UK exported £3.1bn-worth of accounting services in 2017, equivalent to 11% of all professional services exports, making exports five times as valuable as a as accounting imports in that year.

In Ireland, the accountancy profession supported a GDP contribution of €12.9bn (£11.49bn) in 2017. One-quarter of this sum (€3.2bn) was generated by the accounting industry itself, with the remainder––around €9.7bn–– was made up of the value provided by in-house accountants within other Irish industries.

The accountancy profession in Ireland supported 61,200 jobs in 2017. This is made up of around 37,900 people who were employed as in-house accountants across the Irish economy, along with 23,300 workers within Ireland’s specialist accounting practices.

Accounting activities and supporting services directly supported €1.3bn in tax revenue for Ireland in 2017. The clear majority of this figure, around €1.2bn, was made up of ‘labour taxes’ (encompassing Income Tax, PRSI, and USC), with the remainder representing taxes on the sales, profits, and purchases of Irish accounting firms. Businesses in Ireland also purchased €2.3bn-worth of external accounting services in 2017. This demand was driven principally by sectors such as the finance, manufacturing, and wholesale and retail industries. In aggregate, the demand for accounting services was equivalent to 0.6% of all B2B purchases in the Irish economy in 2017.

CCAB has five members - ICAEW, ACCA, CIPFA, ICAS and Chartered Accountants Ireland.

CCAB’s report, prepared by Oxford Economics, seeks to demonstrate the value of accountants to both the UK and Irish economies in terms of commerce, number of members, number of accountancy firms, GDP contribution, employment, tax revenues and purchase and export of accounting services.

CCAB’s report, The accountancy profession in the UK and Ireland, is here.

Report by Pat Sweet

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