Select Committee on Business and Enterprise Thirteenth Report

6  Conclusion

59. Companies House appears to be fulfilling its core functions reasonably well; it handles and provides millions of documents a year; its charges are modest; it is using any surpluses for further investment, and it has met most of its ministerial targets. The issues that have arisen during this inquiry have been about matters that are not entirely within its control. The first is where the balance between publication of information and verification of that information should lie. It would be inaccurate to say Companies House was currently simply a receiver and disseminator of information; its role in checking for disqualified directors goes further. However, beyond that, it offers no assurance. We do not necessarily think this is unreasonable, but recommend there should be a review to consider the balance. The other significant issue is the extent to which companies should be encouraged or even forced to use electronic services, which reduce the risk of fraud. We are disappointed that Companies House has missed its targets for electronic take up of these services, and although we welcome the initiative to increase this, we are disappointed it will not begin until 2009. We understand the difficulty in enforcing electronic filing when current take-up levels are only 49%, but we believe that to reduce fraud, this should be the Government's ultimate aim.

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