Guide to the 2024 Reforms at Companies House

According to the Home Office, the cost of organised fraud to businesses and the public sector is around £5.9 billion a year. Consequently, the Government has been working on a new Bill called The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act which received Royal Assent on 26 October 2023.

The Bill is targeted at reducing economic crime by improving the transparency, accuracy, and quality of data available to enforcement agencies and the public. One of the main features is the role of Companies House, giving rise to the biggest shake up of its services since it was established 180 years ago. Enhanced powers will be given to Companies House to verify and query information, and to pass this on to government departments and law enforcement agencies when needed. It is hoped the changes will stop criminals hiding behind false names or registering companies with inappropriate fictional names, which can be misleading or create vehicles for money laundering.

Some of the reforms will be effective from 4 March 2024. The timeframe for the remainder is yet to be confirmed, although the reform relating to the filing of accounts is likely to be phased in over the next 2 to 3 years. Given the additional functions that Companies House will be carrying out, their charges are almost certainly going to increase.

What changes are taking place at Companies House?

From 4 March 2024

  • More power to scrutinise and reject information that seems incorrect, inconsistent, or fraudulent. Issuing penalties or enforcing strike offs for non-compliance.
  • Stronger checks on new company names to ensure they do not give a false or misleading impression to the public.
  • All companies required to have an appropriate registered office address. PO Box addresses cannot be used.
  • On incorporation, all companies must confirm they are forming the company for a lawful purpose.
  • Use of annotations on the register to alert users about potential issues with the information that has been supplied.
  • All new companies will need to provide a registered email address. Companies House will use this email address to communicate with the company but it will not be available to the public.

From 5 March 2024, the annual confirmation statement must include

  • a statement confirming the business is carrying on lawful activities.
  • a registered email address.

In the future (dates to be confirmed)

  • Identity verification checks required for all directors and people with significant control (PSCs). It is likely that the identity checks we have already carried out should be able to be used and provided to Companies House for this purpose. Further details on how this will work will be published in due course.
  • Agents acting on behalf of clients will also be required to verify their identity before they can file information.
  • All accounts will need to be filed digitally. Paper returns will not be accepted, and the Companies House WebFiling service will be removed.
  • Small companies will no longer be able to file abridged accounts with no profit & loss account. Instead, the choice will be ‘micro-entity’ or ‘small company’. Both options will require a profit & loss account to be filed.
  • a company relying on an audit exemption will need to provide an additional statement by the directors on the balance sheet, confirming the exemption being relied upon, and that the company meets the qualifying criteria.
  • the number of times a company can shorten its Annual Accounting Period are to be restricted – currently there is no limit.

Is there anything I need to do now?

If your accounts and confirmation statement are currently filed by us, then you do not need to do anything further as we already use software to file them. Our software will be updated to ensure that the additional disclosures required are included in the filings.

If you currently file the accounts yourself on paper, or use the Companies House WebFiling system, please contact us as soon as possible for advice.

We will keep you updated with further announcements, particularly in relation to the identity checks and how this will be handled.

Amy FowlerGuide to the 2024 Reforms at Companies House