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What is a Companies house Web Search?

 
Dec 08, 2022 Red Flag Alert Updated On: April 19, 2024
What is a Companies house Web Search?

As a regulatory body working for the UK government, Companies House maintains countrywide registration of limited companies (Ltd) and limited liability partnerships (LLPs). It is an executive agency and operates under the remit of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. 

A Companies House search can be used for researching companies you are or are thinking of doing business with. By undertaking a Companies House web search, the general public can access any information on UK-based registered companies.

Companies House is split into three separate and independent registrars: Companies House Cardiff (covering England & Wales), Companies House Edinburgh (covering Scotland) and Companies House Belfast (Covering Northern Ireland). This is so there is a separate registrar for each jurisdictional district of the UK.

Companies House is meant to be the ultimate source of truth relating to limited companies and LLPs in the UK, a go-to stop for anyone seeking information about one of these specific organisations. 

But, does it do enough for businesses who need deeper insights into data, or are the limitations holding companies back from being able to maintain compliance, make informed decisions, and prospect effectively?

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What is Companies House?

Originally formed as part of the Joint Stock Companies Act 1844, Companies House was created to provide transparency around businesses to help protect the public from fraudulent activity. 

It’s the UK’s central registry of all limited companies and limited liability partnerships and sits as a government body within the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. 

The role of Companies House is to approve the incorporation of relevant businesses and handle the dissolution of companies. They are a repository of information on limited companies and limited liability partnerships, offering this data in the public domain.

Submitting false information or failing to meet your filing obligations is an offence and can result in professional disqualification. In some severe cases, they have been known to prosecute under the Companies Act 2006. There are incoming changes to reform and enhance the role of Companies House, which means they will be better equipped to tackle money laundering and hand out civil sanctions and financial penalties.

 

The full list of companies that must be incorporated through Companies House is:

  • Public Limited Company (PLC)
  • Private Limited Company by share
  • Private Unlimited Company
  • Private Limited Company by Guarantee (no share capital)
  • European Economic Interest Groupings (GP04)
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
  • Limited Partnership
  • European Public Businesses
  • International Companies

 

What information can you find on Companies House?

 Companies House serves as a comprehensive repository of information related to registered companies and their directors in the United Kingdom. Here's an overview of the key types of information you can find on Companies House:

  1. Company Registration Information - This includes details about a company's name, registration number, registered office address, date of incorporation, and company type (e.g., private limited company, public limited company).
  2. Company Officers - Information about company directors, secretaries, and other officers of the company, including their names, dates of birth, nationality, occupation, and any former names.
  3. Company Accounts and Financial Statements - Companies House stores financial records, including annual accounts and reports. These documents provide insights into a company's financial health, performance, and profitability.
  4. Share Capital and Shareholders - Details about the company's share capital structure, including the types of shares issued, their nominal value, and the rights attached to them. Additionally, information about shareholders, including their names, shareholdings, and any changes in ownership, is available.
  5. Annual Returns and Confirmation Statements - Companies are required to file annual returns (or confirmation statements) with Companies House, providing updated information about the company's officers, shareholders, registered office address, and more.
  6. Company Filing History - A chronological record of all documents filed by the company with Companies House, including changes in company details, appointments and resignations of officers, and submission of financial documents.
  7. Mortgage and Charge Details - Information about any mortgages, charges, or debentures registered by the company, including details of the secured assets and the parties involved.
  8. Insolvency Proceedings - Details of any insolvency proceedings or liquidation events involving the company, including voluntary liquidations and administrations, as well as winding-up orders.
  9. Other Documents and Filings - Various other documents and filings related to specific events or changes within the company, such as changes to the company's constitution, alterations to share capital, or resolutions passed by the shareholders.

Businesses are required by law to file certain information at Companies House, this includes basic information such as: 

  • Company name
  • Date of incorporation 
  • Business activity (SIC code)
  • Registered address
  • Directors’ information

Every company on the register is required to file an annual financial statement, except companies with an annual turnover of less than £10 million. These companies do not need to file a fully audited set of accounts and may not be required to share additional information that other companies do.  

This could include:

  • Persons of significant control information
  • Shareholders’ information
  • Previous Directors’ information
  • Previous Company names
  • Mortgage information
  • Annual Confirmation statement
  • Annual financial statement
  • Insolvency information (only in the case of insolvency)

What is Companies House Beta? 

Companies House Beta is an extension of the Companies House service through which Companies House allows its stored information to be accessed by the public. Companies House Beta is free of charge and can be accessed through the Companies House website.

Launched in 2015, there are now over three million business records accessible through Companies House Beta. The service aims to increase the transparency of a company’s financial affairs, as well as provide a resource for professionals when doing due diligence on a potential business partner or customer. 

What Can Businesses do with Company House Beta? 

Businesses can quickly access the data they need through the Companies House Beta website. All they need is the name of the company, company number, or the names of the officers at the company. 

By searching these key elements, Companies House Beta will provide both closed and active companies, along with filters to narrow down relevant results. 

This service is free, so searches can be conducted anonymously. Take a look at the example below to see what types of results you can access…

 

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Three steps to using Companies House Beta

Step 1: Get information about a company 

Begin your search on the Companies House Beta by clicking 'start now' 

start now-2

Step 2: Search the register 

Enter a company name, company number or an officer/director name. There is also an option to complete a more advanced company and director search.

search the register

Step 3: Review results

Ensure that you've found the correct business or director. This will give you access to basic information including an overview, addresses, filing history and people. You can also view more but you will need to have a login to access this information. 

results page

 

Will Deeper Business Details Be Available?

With Companies House, businesses have the opportunity to discover information that can shed more light on what happens behind the scenes. 

For example, directors or persons with significant control of a company will have their name, nationality, occupation, and month and year of birth outlined in the finer details. These will remain on the website even after the company has closed. 

This information can be particularly helpful when looking into a director’s other engagements, such as their other businesses, and previous occupations. 

However, it is important to remember that Companies House can remove personal addresses at a cost, which can make it tricky for businesses solely relying on the website for their insights.

What Can Businesses Do with Companies House Beta?

Companies House Beta intends to transform business data efforts, by digitising key information that is otherwise widespread across different sources.  

This involves replacing the WebCheck and WebFiling tools to create a clear and easy way to access corporate data and process changes across directors, company names, references, and other documents such as statements and accounts. 

However, despite these efforts, there are still limitations across Companies House, and what it can provide to businesses in need of clear, reliable, and accessible data.

The Limitations of Companies House

On the surface, Companies House is an incredibly useful tool. But, it certainly has its limitations that could cause issues for businesses searching for reliable, actionable data. 

There are several major restrictions when using Companies House:

  • Companies with a turnover of less than £10 million a year are not obligated to file a fully audited set of accounts
  • Companies only have to file once a year
  • Information is limited

  • The system is abused
  • It’s inconvenient and inefficient
  • It is not meant to be a tool for making sound business decisions

 

Companies with a turnover of less than £10 million a year are not obligated to file a fully audited set of accounts

The only filing requirements are for the balance sheet and any notes, and these do not need to be prepared by a professional accountant. This information is extremely limited and does not give much insight into a company’s financial health. In the UK millions of companies fall below this threshold. 

Companies only have to file once a year

Information at Companies House is not in real-time and is often ‘out of date as soon as it is filed’. A business showing strong financials at the time of filing may experience distress at any time; for example, a major client may go bust, leaving an unabsorbable bad debt. Without up-to-the-minute information and ongoing monitoring, to base business decisions on you are opening yourself up to serious risk. 

Information is limited 

Companies House does not have information such as County Court Judgements (CCJs), petitions or bad debts which are essential for understanding the financial health of a business

The system is abused

It is very easy to set up a company in the UK and there is no verification required as to actual ownership. Unfortunately, this means that the system can be abused and just because a company is on the registrar does not mean it is legitimate and further information is often needed. 

It’s inconvenient and inefficient

The financial information that is provided comes as a PDF download. As such, to do any analytics you would have to manually go through multiple previous financial statements to obtain any data, wasting time and money, as well as having the necessary software or expertise to perform any analytics.

It is not meant to be a tool for making sound business decisions

Companies House is not, and does not claim to be, an analytical tool or source of up-to-the-minute data. Companies House exists so there is a legally backed register of UK companies to ensure there is always a measure of transparency and that the legitimacy of companies can, theoretically, be easily confirmed.

However, Red Flag Alert is the solution to all of these problems whilst offering even more useful information so you can make accurate data-driven decisions to drive growth and protect your business from risk.

Why should you use Red Flag Alert?  

Whilst Companies House provides basic information for free, it’s not enough to give you an accurate insight into a business or detect any financial distress. 

Businesses need to be able to access clear, reliable, and easy-to-understand data that is not only insightful but actionable. 

At Red Flag Alert, we are dedicated to providing companies with extensive data across all aspects of business. With our platform, users can integrate it into their CRM, supercharging their existing processes, and facilitating the creation of new, efficient solutions to a variety of obstacles.

From prospecting highly relevant sales opportunities to instant onboarding that checks every compliance regulation requirement, our Red Flag Alert business report presents in-depth data and insights on any UK business, quickly, and conveniently. 

We provide detailed information not only on insolvency but also on growth metrics, using our proprietary algorithm and highly accurate scorecard to build real-time and in-depth data analytics for our customers.  

Using this information alongside our powerful monitoring alerts allows full visibility of any changes that occur to a company instantly. We offer:

  • Real-time updates
  • Unique data insights
  • Industry-leading algorithm (built from 15 years’ worth of insolvency data)
  • UK’s No.1 insolvency scorecard
  • All UK businesses
  • International Company Report

Elevate your business information from the basic Companies House insights to the Red Flag Alert solution and begin soaring above your competition and becoming an efficiency machine.  

Find out how Red Flag Alert’s data platform can help your business by starting your free trial today. 

 

  
Published by Red Flag Alert December 8, 2022

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