Companies House is flexing its muscles

As we have reported previously, one of the key aims of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act is to improve the accuracy and quality of the data on Companies House registers.

Under the new legislation, Companies House has enhanced powers to query information that appears to be incorrect or inconsistent with information held.

It is the intention that over time this will improve the accuracy and integrity of the information on the register and safeguard against misleading or unlawful activity.

What we can expect

In the coming months we are going to see a number of changes to the scope of information that Companies House requires about your company. In a recent post, the registrar confirmed that improving the quality of the data held on their registers would be their next target for improvement. They said:

“We can now take a more robust approach to dealing with information that’s been provided to us by querying information and requesting supporting evidence.

“We’ll remove information if it’s inaccurate, incomplete, false or fraudulent. We’ll use annotations on the register to let users know about potential issues with the information that’s been supplied to us.

“We’re also taking steps to clean up the register, using data matching to identify and remove inaccurate information. We have more powers to share information with law enforcement agencies and other government departments.”

The new requirement has teeth

Companies House have confirmed that you must respond quickly when asked for more information so that they can decide the next steps. If your case escalates to a formal query for information and you still do not respond, this will be considered a criminal offence and there could be serious consequences including a financial penalty, an annotation on the company’s record or prosecution.

What to expect in the coming year

It will not have escaped your attention that Prime Minister Sunak will need to call a general election at sometime during 2024. The very latest election date that can be held is 28 January 2025.

If results follow the polls, we are likely to see the Labour Party in charge once more.

New brooms

Politics being the moveable feast that it is, the crystal ball to forecast how a change of government will affect us has yet to be invented, but what will be the likely impacts?

The new incumbents will want to apply their legislative agenda as soon as possible and so we can expect a formal budget following the election.

Labour’s five point plan for growth

Their published agenda covers:

  • Putting economic stability first by introducing a new fiscal lock to bring economic security back to our national and family finances.
  • Getting Britain building again by reforming planning laws to kickstart 1.5 million new homes, transport, clean energy, and new industries in all parts of the country.
  • Backing British business with a new industrial strategy created in partnership with business to maximise Britain’s strengths in life sciences, digital, creative, financial industries, clean power and automotive sectors. Creating a National Wealth Fund to unlock billions of pounds of private investment, crowding in 3 times the amount of public investment.
  • Kickstarting a skills revolution. A new generation of Technical Excellence Colleges, offering more high quality apprenticeships and training opportunities tailored to local jobs in all parts of the country.
  • Making Work Pay by introducing a new deal for working people and delivering a genuine living wage, banning zero hours contracts and ending fire and rehire.

Affordability will be a key issue, where will the money come from? Will we see higher taxes at the higher rates, will there be VAT changes (VAT charged on private school fees for example).

Of course, it is one thing to have the intent to drive home these agendas, it is quite another to achieve these lofty ideals if present international uncertainties are factored into the mix.

Expect change later rather than sooner

Whichever party or parties win control of the next parliament, initially, we are unlikely to see a rapid improvement in economic activity.

Interest rates are sticking at higher levels and many of us are faced with increasing mortgage repayments. Perhaps the Bank of England will lower bank rates as the year progresses.

Barring further unrest in the world – and with events in Israel and Ukraine continuing to unsettle world markets – the free flow of goods is likely to be disrupted and will provide upward pressure on prices.

On the basis that everything changes, let us hope that before we are faced with a further election in five years’ time, things will have changed for the better whoever takes charge of government in that period.

Meanwhile, we must soldier on

There is no doubt that the last few years have been extraordinarily difficult and challenging times. Let us hope that the new government will have the skills and will to ease the effects of these challenges and show us the light at the end of the tunnel.