Overdue accounts in UK Companies House, rise in company accounts filed post-deadlines

Among the many day-to-day things that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps the most integral yet understated aspect is the ongoing Companies House filing obligations that firms in the UK are subject to.

Every year, companies in the UK must file their ‘statutory accounts’ from their annual report to Companies House. Regulated by a deadline, late payment attracts penalties.

In 2018, the number of companies filing their accounts late rose by 2% compared to 2017, with 223,640 companies failing to meet the deadline. This figure accounted for 5.3% of the total filers that year. The situation in the UK has been concerning as annual accounts are mandated to be submitted to Companies House. Unfortunately, the trend continued into 2019-2020, with approximately 213,000 private companies missing the deadline. The consequences of these delays translated into hefty penalties amounting to over £93 million.

On 26 June 2020 measures were introduced to delay the deadline by which filing of accounts had to be done to relieve the burden on businesses during the covid-19 outbreak and allow them to focus on continuing to operate. A companies house filing deadline was extended if it fell any time from 27 June 2020 to 5 April 2021. 

This extension was based on

  • company type (Public limited companies (PLCs), Private company, LLP)
  • accounting reference dates: all companies – trading, non-trading, or dormant – must provide accounts to Companies House no more than nine months after the end of their financial year, ending on the company’s Accounting Reference Date (ARD)
  • previous extension request status
  • extension or shortening of the accounting reference period
  • first-time filing of accounts – new limited companies can file their first accounts at Companies House no more than 21 months after their incorporation date

When this extension was granted almost 10 months ago, the second wave of the pandemic was not expected to hit at this intensity. Not only are businesses continuing to limp towards normalcy, but they are also far from being ready to allocate resources and time towards preparing year-end accounts for compliance.

The deadline of 5 April is expected to have affected up to 300,000 UK companies to file their annual accounts.

As Companies House encourages more companies to embrace digital filing, the responsibility falls upon company directors to safeguard against late filing penalties, particularly when managing overdue accounts. Digital filing is not only convenient and efficient but also offers the added benefit of data validation, ensuring error-free submissions. DataTracks’ iXBRL tagging services provide an additional layer of assurance, guaranteeing the accuracy and compliance of financial statements for regulatory filings.

XBRL managed tagging services for HMRC