Digital filing increasing, says Companies House
Companies House said more businesses are filing their annual accounts digitally thanks to upgrades it installed during the COVID-19 pandemic and further streamlining to the system has been well received.
Nearly 89 per cent of annual accounts sent to Companies House in the 2020/21 financial year were filed electronically, up from 84.9 per cent last year. There has been an overall increase in digital take-up from 88.4 per cent in 2019-20 to just over 91 per cent this financial year.
One of the upgrades to the system includes a new filing service that allows businesses to digitally upload nearly 400 types of documents. As well as improving efficiency, the new system is removing the dependency on paper forms and reducing the need for in-person contact. It also has inbuilt checks to avoid customers making mistakes, and lessens the chance of a late filing penalty.
There are, however, still some businesses that prefer the more traditional paper processing said Lisa Davis, head of regional delivery and registrar of Scotland, and Companies House is working to ensure that paper documents are processed within a reasonable time.
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve tried to do all we can to maintain our services during this difficult time, but it’s been essential that we balance this with ensuring the safety and wellbeing of everyone who works for Companies House,” she said.
Despite a three-month filing extension deadline introduced during the height of the pandemic, Companies House said there are still fines applicable if deadlines are not met.
The automatic three-month filing extension deadline has expired and private companies with 31 December year ends have until the end of this month to file with the register – or risk facing penalties.
Members planning to file online for the first time should be aware that they require a company authentication code to progress their online filing that can take up to five days to be sent.
“As a result of the pandemic, if a director is unable to access the company’s authentication code at the registered office address, there is currently a service available to choose to have the code sent to their home address instead,” Sally Baker, technical manager in ICAEW’s financial reporting faculty said.
“We would advise companies to check their deadlines carefully and plan accordingly to ensure that they can be met.”
The ongoing consultation on Companies House reform includes a proposal to make digital filing to Companies House mandatory. Companies House said as part of its strategy to support people through the transition to online filing and to encourage users to interact with the register digitally, it had developed online services to ensure they are accessible, easy to use and give a great user experience.
Companies can now apply to extend their filing deadline online, where they meet the criteria for doing so, making it easier to request more time to file accounts. If a company’s filing deadline has already passed, users can now pay or appeal a late filing penalty online.