The government has launched a consultation on wide-ranging reforms of the Companies House register, aimed at tackling misuse and ensuring accuracy.
The proposals, set out in detail in an 80-page consultation document, are aimed at providing businesses and consumers with increased protections from fraud, misuse of information and criminal activity.
The reforms also include specific measures to help increase the accuracy and usefulness of the information available on the companies register, which last year was accessed 6.5 billion times and, as of March 2018, included over 4 million limited companies.
In the last 3 years there have been almost 10,000 complaints to Companies House from people concerned about their personal details, with worries including fraud and use of personal details.
The consultation seeks views on the proposed reforms, which, if implemented, would see the most significant overhaul of the UK’s company registration framework in over 100 years.
These include companies having to disclose more information, increased checks on information provided and the introduction of measures to improve the exchange of intelligence between Companies House, HMRC and UK law enforcement bodies.
The package of proposed reforms include verifying identification of those setting up, managing and controlling companies; improving the accuracy and usability of data on the register and making it easier and quicker to remove inaccurate information from the register; protecting personal information on the register; and improving the detection of possible criminal behaviour with enhanced data sharing.
Among the proposals, the government is seeking to extend the powers of Companies House, moving away from its traditional role of accepting information and dealing with inaccuracies when notified at a later date, towards a more proactive approach of querying information before it is registered. Companies House would also have the power to ask for further evidence, where appropriate.
The government has acknowledged that a new operating model will be needed to deliver these new responsibilities, requiring new digital technologies, a major upgrade of Companies House systems and process capabilities, and new skills requirements.
There will also be an impact on the fees levied by Companies House.
The consultation closes on 5th August 2019.