Companies House reforms set to give businesses increased protections

man on laptop with sunlight shining in backgroundA consultation has been launched by Companies House to make companies better protected from fraud, safeguard the personal data of business owners, and ensure the accuracy of the register.

The reforms aim to minimise the burden on law-abiding companies, and contribute to UK efforts to tackle economic crime by increasing the traceability of company ownership and management.

The companies register was accessed 6.5 billion times in 2018, and as of March 2018, included over 4 million limited companies.

In the last three 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 topping the list.

The package of proposed reforms includes:

  • verifying identities of who is setting up, managing and controlling companies
  • improving the accuracy and usability of data on the register, querying and corroborating data
  • protecting personal information on the register, with directors given additional rights over their information
  • improving the detection of possible criminal behaviour

Edwin Morgan, interim director general of the Institute of Directors, said:

"We welcome the thrust of these proposals. The IoD receives regular complaints from its members concerning the misuse of data published by Companies House. Transparency is a key feature of UK-registered companies, but if that transparency can be exploited by criminals or fraudsters, then trust in the legal framework of business is undermined."

The proposals will be underpinned by a major transformation programme to upgrade digital services at Companies House, alongside a complete review of its staffing and skills requirement. This package of proposals would be the largest change to the system of setting up and operating companies since the register was created in 1844.

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