This blog looks at what the new Act is, its implementation into law, key changes and what you should be doing now to prepare for some of the more significant changes due to take place.
What is the new Act?
The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 received Royal Assent in the last days of the previous parliament. The Act contains a number of measures which together represent significant change for companies and Companies House customers. The Act is being phased in over a nine month period, with the most significant (and controversial) changes due to come into force in 2016.
The government’s stated aim is that the Act should reduce red tape for SME businesses whilst increasing the quality of information on the public register. It also aims to enhance transparency and ensure the UK is seen as a trusted and fair place to do business.
When is it being implemented?
Certain parts of the Act are already in force and the rest will come into effect over the next nine months, with the bulk of the implementation being in 2016. There are, however, certain important changes in relation to the way directors consent to their appointment (as company directors) that are due to come into force on 10 October 2015.
For our updated template material in relation to this new consent procedure, click click here.
What are the key changes?
One of the major changes is that there is to be a register of ‘persons with significant control’ over companies. Private companies must maintain a register of people who hold – directly or indirectly – more than 25 per cent of the shares in a company from April 2016. This information must also be filed with Companies House as of June 2016.
However, for some companies, this register will prove a big and troublesome exercise, and could be said to fly in the face of the government’s red tape challenge and objective of saving time and money for companies.
Another important change is that the requirement to submit an annual return to Companies House will be abolished. Instead, companies will be required to confirm once a year in a ‘confirmation statement’ that the filing of statutory information is up to date and notify of any changes.
Yet there is concern that some companies will confirm everything is up to date without checking to see whether this is actually the case, and over time the quality of the Companies House register may deteriorate. Furthermore, the register may also become progressively harder to use, as the current ‘snapshot’ approach of the annual return is lost.
What should I be doing now?
Simply-Docs has produced a range of documents to cover the parts of the Act that have been implemented already. In addition, we have produced this information page, which includes headline points that SME businesses need to be aware of and their implementation dates.
We will add to our range of documents in due course. as and when other implementation dates approach. However there are some practical steps that companies can take to prepare themselves, particularly in preparation for the new register of ‘persons with significant control’.
This includes finding out who has significant control of the company now, before contacting these people to confirm their shareholding and explain the types of information that they will need to provide to the company going forward. Doing this now will make the whole process of meeting your company’s statutory obligations much easier in 2016.