New company, Old company: File on time

New company, Old company: File on time

Brexit uncertainty or not it seems as though the British appetite for setting up and building businesses has not diminished. So much so that, according to Companies House, 2018/19 saw 672,890 new company registrations; the highest number seen since 2009/10 and an increase of 8.5% on the previous year.

It has to be said that not all ventures result in lasting success. This last year also saw the highest number of company closures since 2009/10 at just over 500,000. Nevertheless, overall the company register grew by 4.2% with over 4 million businesses currently on the Companies House books.

The ebb and flow of companies on and off the register in tandem with the year by year increase in numbers registered has resulted in a fall in the average age of UK companies. In 2000 this stood at 10.7 years, now it has fallen to 8.5 years.

New company or not, directors need to be fully aware of their responsibility in filing statutory returns such as accounts or annual confirmation statements. Failing to file on time could result in financial penalty, or even the company being struck off the register. For example, for private limited companies, which compromise more than 96% of organisations on the register, the penalty for failing to file accounts on time starts at £150, rising to £1500 after six months.

In a bid to reduce the more than 223,000 late filing penalties which were handed out in 2018, Companies House has launched an awareness campaign. As part of this campaign they have highlighted the areas of the country which received the most fines. Perhaps unsurprisingly London leads the way with 56,180 fines; albeit that the capital is somewhat ahead of second placed Birmingham (6,363) with Manchester at 5,177 coming in third. In terms of other areas of the UK appearing on the top ten list; Belfast sits in fifth with 3,844 fines whilst Glasgow is the sole representative from Scotland coming in seventh with 3,192.

There is little excuse for missing key filing dates. A simple diary reminder should be sufficient and even if internal triggers are missed, Companies House issues reminders via e-mail. Companies also have the option of appointing external agents to manage their reporting and compliance filing workload. That doesn’t remove the responsibility from company directors but it can help to ensure that in a busy growing organisation statutory reporting is not overlooked. For example, Elemental’s company secretarial package covers all the basic statutory compliance requirements including preparing and filing the company’s annual return and maintaining the statutory registers; thereby helping to ensure that key reporting deadlines are met.

Nick Lindsay
nick.lindsay@gmail.com
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