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Companies House: Reform

Volume 685: debated on Wednesday 9 December 2020

My right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Climate Change and Corporate Responsibility (Lord Callanan) has today made the following statement:

The Government have today published three further consultations to take forward their plans to reform the UK’s register of company information and give businesses greater confidence in who they are doing business with.

These consultations follow the Government’s response to the 2019 consultation to enhance the role of Companies House and increase the transparency of companies and other legal entities, which was published on 18 September 2020.

The key proposals of the consultations are:

Querying power consultation: Companies House will have new powers to query information, which will be exercised on a risk-based approach. The consultation also explores how its powers will be strengthened in a range of areas, including to close various loopholes and remove information from the companies register.

Accounts filing consultation: This consultation invites views on how companies might in future be able to file accounts once with Government, instead of providing separate filings to Companies House, HMRC and other agencies. We are also reviewing the way small companies submit accounts to get the balance right between minimising burdens whilst ensuring the information provided is actually informative. We are also proposing to require all companies to file accounts to Companies House in digital formats, and to give Companies House more powers to check information in those accounts.

Corporate directors’ consultation: To tackle opaque corporate structures, we propose that corporate directors will be prohibited unless their own boards comprise all natural persons, and those natural persons have their identities verified.

These consultations are another important step in the developing the detail of our package of reforms and will have a negligible impact on the speed at which incorporation and other filings are completed: we still expect the vast majority of companies to be able to incorporate easily within 24 hours.

A copy of the consultations will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.