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Companies House received record 11.3m digital filings

Companies House accepted 11.3m digital filings in the last financial year with the words ‘digital filing’ not even mentioned in last year’s annual report

The last two years has seen Companies House advance dramatically in its steps towards digitalisation with the organisation seeing a 91.4% digital take up in the last financial year compared to 88.4% in 2019-20.

Regarding paper documents Companies House accepted 1m which is down 400,000 from last year’s reported 1.4m. It also accepted 12.3m transactions which is a small increase on last year’s 12.3m.

As an emergency response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Companies House developed and introduced a new filing service which allowed 400 different documents to uploaded digitally instead of posting a physical document. Since 1 June 2020, there had been 145,000 submissions through the ‘upload a document’ service including critical insolvency related filings which were entirely paper based.

Companies House spent £92.6m in the 2020-21 financial year, which is £13.5m more than last year’s figure of £79.1m while their income dropped by £1m to £71.3m from last year’s £72.3m.

The results for the year were ‘heavily impacted’ by the Covid-19 pandemic with areas of spend being brought forward and other areas being deferred, the annual report showed.

The size of the Companies House register grew 8.3% to 4.7m up from 4.3m in 2019-20, this meant that income related to confirmation statements increased by £1.4m to £48.5m from £47.1m and income from incorporations increased by £1.2m to £9m from £7.8m.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, late filing penalty (LFP) collection activities were put on hold from 26 March 2020, which saw income earned from penalties fall by £1.4m to £4.7m from £6.1m.

This year Companies House reported that 449,881 companies were dissolved, this is nearly 100,000 less then the 2019-20 report which had 536,000 dissolved companies.

It also stated that 95,158 went into liquidation, 204,641 were dissolved, and 5,419 companies went into receivership. An additional 1.5m dissolved records dating back to 2010 were added to its service.

However, Companies House reported there were 810,323 new incorporations, compared to last year’s 665,500, and 4,985 company restorations which continues the upwards trend in the size of the register.

Companies House was accessed for free 10.1bn times in the last financial year which is up from 9.46bn in 2019-20, the register was accessed 227,000 times for paid for information which is a decline of 111,000 from 388,000 last year. Companies House also reported a £900,000 loss from search services as the demand for certified copies fell due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The level of customer satisfaction fell by 1% in the last financial year from 87% in 2019-20 to 86% this year, however this is 7% above Company House’s target from last year.

This decline mirrors the fact that the department had to close its contact centre phone lines between April and July 2020 taking 60% less phone calls with the figure sitting at 339,771 from 827,683. The department recorded more dealings with emails at 997,988 up 25% from 790,791 in 2019-20.

Companies House increased its total headcount of staff from 1,062 to 1,099 in the financial year, in response to the Covid-19 lockdown. It managed to enable 95% of its workforce to work remotely by the end of April 2020 and by the end of May its entire workforce was working remotely.  

The gross administration costs for the year were £78.9m, an increase of £4.4m over the previous year which sat at £74.5m, and the cost of staff, excluding contractors, increased by £4.6m compared to 2019-20. Companies House stated that the increase in staff numbers was ‘necessary’ to develop the ‘capacity and capability’ of areas to support the transformation.

The statutory external audit was performed by the National Audit Office (NAO) which was paid £64,000 for the work, this is up from last year’s £61,000.

Companies House stated that its expenditure for the future will continue to be focused on making sure users can transact fully online using services that are insightful and accessible and enabling them to provide current, complete, and correct information.

It will also expand the range and accessibility of its data to enhance its usefulness of its registers, it will also be analysing the data in order to create services to combat economic crime.

There is currently three outstanding consultations which are set to reform the powers of Companies House helping it to improve business transactions and tackle economic crime such as fraud and money laundering.

 

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