Government set to relax limited company Annual Return process

Currently all limited companies have to file an Annual Return with the registrar of companies, regardless of what state the company is in (live, or dormant) or whether or not any changes have been made to the company’s core administrative details or not (i.e. changes to personnel, the company’s registered address, or the share capital, etc.)

Following a consultation into company filing requirements, prompted by its ‘Red Tape Challenge’, which aims to reduce the amount of rules and regulations small businesses have to endure, the Government is to introduce ‘flexibility’ into the way companies keep Companies House updated.

During the consultation process, which it has to be said is not the most comprehensive that we have seen given that it is claimed that a total of 139 respondents took part, 70 per cent said that companies should be simply allowed to ‘check and confirm’ that the current registry information is up-to-date. 64 per cent said that the Annual Return should be retained in some form.

The Government says that it needs to balance the need to keep the public register accurate and as up-to-date as possible with the need to minimise the amount of ‘red tape’ companies have to deal with.

According to the consultation response document, this new flexibility will enable firms to confirm whether the information stored at Companies House is ‘correct and complete’ at any point during a 12 month period, rather than at a fixed point during the year (as is the case now).

“This will remove a burden from those companies who make changes to some of their information within the year and then have to duplicate this information when they additionally complete an annual return.”

For example, if you appoint a new director, you will be given the chance to ‘check, notify changes if necessary and confirm’ all your other company details at the same time you inform Companies House, rather than re-submitting the same information as part of an Annual Return.

This, and other changes, will be made via amendments to the Companies Act 2006, ‘when parliamentary time permits’.