Companies House to reduce costs by 3.5% despite increase in workload

Companies House has outlined plans to reduce costs of baseline activities by 3.5%, despite having an increased workload, and will focus investment on improvements to digital services, expecting to have digital filing options for 99% of accounts by March 2018

Companies House business plan for 2017/18 states: ‘Our programme of efficiency savings, coupled with our processing and system improvements and increasing the take up of digital services to 87%, will achieve our target to reduce the cost of our baseline activities by 3.5%.

‘This includes up to 40 fewer full time posts engaged on core activities by the end of 2017/18, significantly off-setting the increase in staff expected to cope with the new work.’

The plan has budgeted for £70.3m of income in 2017/18, up from £66.3m actual income in 2015/16, and expects a deficit of £1.4m down from £2.5m in 2015/16.

A spokesperson for Companies House told CCH Daily: ‘Due to efficiency savings, system improvements and increased take up of digital services, we’ll be redeploying staff to deal with new work in areas such as corporate transparency.’

Companies House’s plans to move entirely digital to reduce the amount of mistakes made and in turn reduce the amount of accounts rejected, similar to HMRC’s Making Tax Digital project.

The plan states: ‘In the coming year we will be focusing on digitally enabling those types of accounts which currently have to be filed on paper. This will include, for example, ensuring we can accept changes in the format of accounts, including the abridged accounts that some companies may file instead of abbreviated accounts.

‘There may be some, rarely filed types of accounts, which are not suitable for digital filing but we intend to have digital filing options for 99% of all accounts types by March 2018.’

Companies House will also work alongside the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to create a new register showing the beneficial owners of overseas entities that own or want to buy property in the UK, and of overseas entities involved in central government contracts, in preparation for upcoming legislative changes.

The main targets set out in the plan are to: provide excellence in company registration and search; to make the register as complete and accurate as possible; and to build a high performance culture. To achieve these goals Companies House is aiming to digitally enable 99% of all possible accounts filings and to achieve a take-up of 87% of digital filing services by 2018 to help cut costs.

In October 2016, 2.5% of company accounts prepared under FRS 102 were rejected by Companies House. Companies House is now in the process of developing a new service to address this issue.

A spokesperson for Companies House told CCH Daily: ‘With regard to FRS 102 accounts reporting; work is ongoing to deliver a new service that will enable you to file abridged accounts directly to us on the Companies House Service. We expect to launch it later this year, initially in private beta.’

Companies House business plan 2017 to 2018 is available here

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