A huge shake-up is afoot at Companies House, with the biggest changes in its 175 year history in the offing.
The plan is to improve the transparency and accuracy of the information it holds and what it knows about businesses. It also aims to give Companies House more power and get it fighting fit for the future.
As it stands, the reforms have been recommended and consultation period has happened – now we wait to see what will roll out.
What do these proposals include?
With several main themes, we have summarised the key points for you here:
Why is this happening?
The Government wants the UK to be the best place to start and grow a business, with a transparent and attractive business landscape. It feels Companies House needs greater scope to combat economic crime and improve protection for businesses. This is partly about futureproofing Companies House, as well as giving it a significantly more robust function. The fundamentals of what Companies House does won’t change, but how they do it will.
What stage in the process are we at?
The Government published its consultation on corporate transparency and register reform in May 2019. A consultation period was then launched to provide feedback on the proposed reform, which closed in August. The register currently includes over 4 million businesses already, so it will be interesting to see how many made their voices heard.
What do you need to pay attention to?
Aside from the key points laid out above, the Government also wants to bring in a more uniform format for filing accounts, to allow for easier automated checks and better analysis. Additionally, it has been spotted that the shortening of accounting reference periods is open to being abused; potentially because a company is experiencing financial difficulties or to conceal fraudulent activity. Working with HMRC, there is an investigation into this, and we should expect some changes to the submission requirements.
What else is changing?
Companies House has already started making significant shifts. It has already begun a transformation programme, which is focused on having the right staff in place, excellent systems, and offering the best services they can. Change is afoot, and if all the proposals outlined here are to proceed, we will witness the biggest reform to the UK’s company registration framework since it started in 1844 – these are changes that have been a long time in the making!