https://companieshouse.blog.gov.uk/2016/09/08/campaign-encouraging-accountants-to-file-online/

Campaign: encouraging accountants to file online

I’m Jack Mansfield, head of digital take-up at Companies House. I spend a lot of my time working to promote the benefits of filing online. This blog highlights some of the work we've done recently to boost our digital services to accountants.

Background

Our research with accounting and legal professionals shows that there’s a resistance to change from paper filing to digital. Changing processes that have been in place for many years, which are not regarded as core business, is generally seen as low priority and difficult to justify on cost grounds.

We want to point accountancy firms towards the benefits of filing digitally with us and to ease concerns. We didn’t, however, want them to take our word for it, so we spoke with accountants who’ve already made the switch.

We recorded a series of video interviews with accountants from around the UK, which will be used to reach accountants via various online channels to encourage them to adopt digital filing.

Choice of candidates

We want all UK filers of accounts, across all accountancy firms large and small, multinationals, individual companies and groups to file online.

With this in mind, we spoke to:

  • Thomson Reuters, a multinational corporation
  • Crowe Clark Whitehill, a top ten national firm
  • Flex Accounting Services Ltd, a small firm of accountants and bookkeepers
  • Moore Scarrott, a medium accountancy organisation
  • Henderson Loggie, a national Scottish firm

We also interviewed the major legal firm Addleshaw Goddard about digital filing of mortgage forms.

Production

I was very keen to be involved in the recording process and attended a number of the sessions to see at first-hand what our customers thought. Senior representatives responsible for filing with us from each organisation were interviewed. We asked them open questions, which invited the interviewees to make comments about their experience with filing online here at Companies House.

We found that there was unprompted universal support for digital filing, and a collective dislike for paper filing.

I reviewed all of the videos produced and even made some suggestions which were taken on board. The final videos were produced with overlaid text highlighting important parts of the conversations and identifying the key benefits. Now accountants can see and hear from industry professionals why making the switch is a good idea.

A selection of the videos

All of the videos are available on our YouTube channel and we're busy promoting them through articles on our site and for AccountingWEB. We’re also using them in a series of messages on social media, that target people with specific accountancy interests. Other mediums we're using include webinars and, of course, this blog.

We’ve already reached the point where 75% of all accounts are filed digitally and we’re monitoring this to see how this improves following our campaign.

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2 comments

  1. Comment by Nigel Hughes posted on

    I have been filing my company's accounts online for years. Apart from some glitches during the period when you were using Acrobat as a filing mechanism it has generally worked well. If you can do this, why can you not share your expertise with HMRC? Yes, I know I can file "full accounts" with you and you can then share them with HMRC, but why should I if statutorily I don't have to?
    Why can you not simply make you're full accounts formats available to HMRC? You are both, after all, taxpayer funded, government agencies.

    • Replies to Nigel Hughes>

      Comment by Jac Bond posted on

      From the question asked I presume you are enquiring about the Companies House WebFiling service. This does not provide for filing of full accounts and is enabled for abbreviated accounts only, which are not acceptable to HMRC. We have worked with HMRC to produce the companies accounts and tax online (CATO) platform which allows companies to joint file some types of accounts with both organisations. And we will continue to work with HMRC to enhance filing with both organisations.

      Filing requirements for accounts for the public record are governed by the Companies Act and are totally separate from HMRC’s requirements for corporation tax purposes. They are different statutory obligations which we are not able to combine under current legislation.

      For further clarification, we are not funded by the taxpayer. As a trading fund, Companies House is required to meet public targets for efficiency and raises funding to cover operating costs from charging fees primarily from incorporating and dissolving companies and registering certain filings of company information.