By Lyndsey Hall
From April 2015, digital data from Companies House (CH) will be free to access, in a move to “improve corporate transparency”, according to the government.
Accountants will be able to research clients’ and potential clients’ businesses without having to pay the usual £1 per document to download. In 2013/14, Companies House made £8.7m from selling information alone, but as part of a Public Data Group Summer Statement for the 2014 G8 Statement, the government has decided to offer this data free of charge.
The Summer Statement is part of an updated Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Open Data Strategy, supporting open data across the department and its partner organisations.
CH is just one of a number of government data bodies affected by planned data releases; including the Land Registry, Ordnance Survey and Met Office.
“By making its data freely available and free of charge, Companies House is making the UK a more transparent, efficient and effective place to do business” – Vince Cable, Business Secretary
Currently, it is possible to run an individual check on a company and view their details and filing history for free, and in order to download copies of document images and company reports you pay £1 per document. Or, for a monthly subscription of £4, you can set up an account and access as many company details as you like, however you will still be charged £1 to download documents.
CH have even launched a free mobile app that can be downloaded to your smartphone so you can check out companies on the go. It allows you to save companies to your Favourites so you can keep up to date with them at a glance.
Many accountants also offer a quick credit check service now, in addition to the basic company information that can be found on the CH website. For a nominal fee, you can view the credit history of your ten best (or worst) suppliers and customers, allowing you to see whether it is worth pitching for their business, or whether you need to quickly and quietly end the relationship.
What do you think of Companies House making their data free of charge? Here at Knowles Warwick, we spend a considerable amount on accessing information from CH, so we are looking forward to making a large saving! Let us know how the change will affect your business in the Comments.
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