Winner of this year’s award for Best Use of the Internet by the Public Sector
is Companies House for its online company information, filing and registration
The existence of the Companies House website coincides with a huge surge in
company registrations, and the site’s ease of use makes it not just an efficient
public service but a strong contributor to UK plc.
Since it began incorporating companies in the 19th century, Companies House
has registered more than five million companies. Of those, more than a million
have been registered in the past five years. The registration service has been
online for four and a half years.
The numbers are indeed impressive. The site has 4.5 million users monthly.
More than 85% of incorporations are now received electronically and processed
within 24 hours. In addition, about 12,000 companies register for electronic
filing services every week.
More individuals now seem inclined to incorporate because the website has
lowered barriers to entry and cut red tape. This improvement in access to
government services makes the website a significant milestone in the
government’s ambition to deliver services online.
E-filing services, meanwhile, provide companies and accountants with a secure
means of cutting down on paperwork and streamlining formerly onerous
Developed in consultation with business users, the Companies House WebFiling
system offers protection from corporate identity fraud risks, as the system has
an in-built security system designed to protect companies from unauthorised
filing of changes to registered office and directors’ details.
As well as the time and efficiency benefits, WebFiling is a cheaper service
than its paper equivalent. Filing annual returns online is half the price of
The judges commended the Companies House online offering. ‘It offers services
to accountants at high volumes, and has very good service level agreements in
place. ’They found it ‘hugely impressive: an excellent example of good project
management, being tested before reaching the public.’
They also applauded the site for its positive impact on UK business and its
performance compared with less effective websites hosted by other public sector
As one judge said: ‘Other public bodies could learn from them.’
The Companies House website offers a facility through which businesses,
professionals and members of the public can access all public domain company
documents: annual returns and accounts, director listings and company records.
Information on two million companies is currently available.
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