Company Secretarial

Companies House Reforms: The Future of Corporate Governance

November 20th 2023

By Wisteria

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In February last year, the government published a white paper outlining its intention to expand the role of Companies House, arming it with new wide-ranging powers to tackle economic crime and increase the accuracy and transparency of filed information.

Last month, these proposals were finally enshrined in law, receiving royal consent and forming the basis of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act. With stricter controls for limited companies, limited partnerships, and overseas entities, the new act could change the way companies operate.

So, what exactly are the new reforms and what do they mean for UK businesses?

What are the new Companies House reforms?

The new Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act includes a number of key measures, which give the Registrar of Companies House and her colleagues broader powers to vet company directors, protect personal data, and verify information.

Here are some of the new measures that, as a company director, you need to be aware of:

  • All new and existing company directors, people with significant control, and those who file on behalf of companies will have to verify their identity with Companies House.

  • There will be stricter controls around the filing of financial information, to ensure the register is more accurate and reliable and reflects the latest advancements in digital technology.

  • Companies House will have greater powers of investigation and enforcement as well as more freedom to share relevant information with official partners, such as the police.

  • The act will also introduce enhanced data protection procedures, to safeguard personal information and shield individuals from fraud and other harm.

What do the new Companies House reforms mean for my business?

So what do these reforms mean for UK businesses? Although the bill has now become law, for the time being at least, very little will change.

That’s because the key measures outlined in the act have yet to come into force, and will be introduced gradually over the next few months and years, subject to development and secondary legislation.

Some measures will be introduced sooner than others, however, with a number of important amendments taking effect early next year.

Here are a few imminent changes that might impact your business processes:

  • Companies House will have more scope to query any information that appears incorrect or inconsistent, so you’ll have to take extra care submitting pertinent information, such as your company’s annual accounts.

  • With new rules around company addresses, organisations will no longer be able to use a PO Box as their registered address and must have an appropriate address at all times.

  • Each year, you’ll have to confirm that your company’s future activities will be lawful when you file your confirmation statement.

  • Companies House will begin sharing relevant data with other government departments and law enforcement agencies in order to verify information, clear up inaccuracies, and disrupt economic crime.

  • Companies House fees are also set to increase in early 2024 in line with the new measures.

Companies House and the future of corporate governance

Although this raft of new measures may seem like a lot of unnecessary red tape, in truth, the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act is specifically designed to protect businesses and support economic growth. Moving forward, the act should help to prevent criminals from abusing the UK’s open economy, combat fraud, and create a fairer, more meritocratic system.

Speak to the experts

If you want to learn more about the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act and how the new measures might impact your business, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

At Wisteria, our team of specialist corporate accountants can help you ensure that all your financial information is correct and up to date, your statutory accounts are filed in a timely manner, and your company meets all the new criteria.

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