Public sector annual report: Companies House

Accountancy Age created this award this year to highlight the importance of transparency in the public and voluntary sector given that the demands of public and voluntary organisations’ accounts are less stringent but can divulge more than private companies, as they do not have to guard business secrets against competitors.

To do it engagingly is not easy, as any non-profit organisation will tell you. From the numerous entries, the judges were forced to whittle down the entrants to four finalists and finally one winner.

In this ‘annus horribilis’ for the accountancy industry, the Public and Voluntary Sector Annual Report and Accounts Award is especially important, as organisations are finding themselves having to improve their transparency after the myriad scandals that have rocked the corporate world since last year.

But Companies House faced tough competition; among the other candidates shortlisted was the BBC, whose finance director John Smith won the 2001 FD of the Year Award. Other candidates on the finalists’ list were of equally high calibre. British Waterways, which last year launched a £2m e-business portal in its bid to expand business opportunities and improve efficiency, was also selected.

The judges were looking for the annual report and accounts that clearly communicated financial performance, the key drivers of the organisation, the management strategy and understanding of corporate governance.

After much debate, the judges decided the best annual report was presented by Companies House. One judge said it was ‘very impressive’.

Another said the report was ‘a clear, concise set of accounts and well laid out’.

According to one judge, it was obvious much work had gone into the report. He added: ‘The great energy in developing its service clearly shines through.’ Another praised the presentation, saying: ‘It combines clear headlines with detail.’

Companies House’s new chief Claire Clancy said it was with ‘great pleasure’ that she looked back over the achievements of the past year while preparing the accounts. In the report, she commented: ‘I know I can record how well the organisation has done without blowing my own trumpet, as the results were entirely the work of others.’

She especially praised the staff, saying: ‘I know my predecessor would want me to give a special vote of thanks to all the staff who work in Companies House for their continuing commitment and hard work. They must take the credit for all that follows in this Annual Report.’

The report shows plainly how money was spent, the different projects Companies House has undertaken, its policies, and reveals the organisation’s strategic aims and future targets.

One highlight is a helpful section that contains a frank performance grid, key statistics and a chart of public targets, giving an unobstructed view of Companies House at a glance.

Other shortlisted candidates:

  • BBC
  • British Waterways
  • Child Support AgencySponsored by

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