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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/quality-information-to-accompany-our-statistical-releases/2086816
Companies House official statistics: Quality information
This document provides information on the quality of Companies House’s official statistics, to enable users to judge whether or not the data are of sufficient quality for their intended use. The information is structured in terms of the quality dimensions of the European Statistical System.
(Relevance is the degree to which the statistical product meets user needs for both coverage and content)
Companies House incorporates and dissolves limited companies, registers the information companies are legally required to supply, and makes that information available to the public. It is responsible for the official government register of UK companies. To this end Companies House holds the most comprehensive record of company activity in the UK. The statistics releases provide figures both for the UK as a whole, and for England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland individually. Annual figures cover the most recent five years of data for the constituent countries and the UK as a whole. Data back to 1939 are published for Great Britain up to 2008 to 2009 and for the United Kingdom from 2009 to 2010 onwards. Monthly figures covering the most recent five years were published both for the UK as a whole and for the constituent countries until July 2016; these monthly publications have now been replaced with quarterly figures following a user consultation earlier in 2016.
Companies House carries out regular user engagement activity to ensure its products meet users’ needs. The most recent user consultation ran from March to May 2016 and covered both the content and frequency of Companies House’s official statistics publications. In addition to the change from monthly to quarterly publications described above, changes to the format of the publications were also made as a result of the feedback received.
In addition to this formal user engagement activity, Companies House welcomes feedback from users of its statistics. This feedback can be provided by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accuracy and reliability
(This refers to the closeness between an estimated or stated result and the [unknown] true value)
Companies House is the organisation responsible for incorporating and dissolving companies, and all companies are required to register with Companies House to legally exist. The statistics should, therefore, be a complete record of company activity in the UK.
Companies House is the official source of information on company activity in the UK and the statistics are based on information submitted to Companies House by or on behalf of companies. Companies House has limited power to verify this information. In addition, companies are registered at Companies House regardless of whether they go on to trade actively or not. The statistics reported do not distinguish between active and inactive companies. These factors should be borne in mind when considering the figures reported by Companies House.
Timeliness and punctuality
(Timeliness refers to the elapsed time between publication and the period to which the data refer. Punctuality refers to the time lag between the actual and planned dates of publication)
Statistical releases are published on a quarterly and annual basis. Quarterly statistics are published on the last Thursday in the month following the end of the period being reported. Annual statistics cover a financial year and are published in the summer following the end of the year. These are the earliest publication dates that allow the compilation of the statistical release in its final form ready for publication.
Publications are pre-announced on the gov.uk release calendar and the statistics have always been published on schedule.
(Coherence is the degree to which data are derived from different sources or methods, but which refer to the same phenomenon, are similar)
This section provides brief information on how these statistics relate to selected business statistics. More detailed information can be found in the Guide to the Business Population between business statistics. It focusses on the differences between estimates of the business population and includes a range of related statistics.
Further information on the difference between companies and business is available in the guidance document Definitions to accompany statistical releases.
Company incorporations and business creation
There is a range of official data sources available to monitor business creation, but each has a slightly different coverage. Taken together, they provide a good overall picture of the trend in business creation activity. Individually, each source will be suitable for different, specific purposes. Sources include:
- Companies House Incorporations – new company registrations, including those not actively trading. Incorporations are one source of statistics on business creation. They provide information on newly formed companies that are added to the Companies House register. Incorporated Companies can go on to trade actively, but some will be dormant companies that do not trade actively. Companies House Incorporations do not capture business start-ups of other business types such as those starting up as an unincorporated sole proprietorship or partnership.
- Business Demography, which provides information for businesses registering for VAT or PAYE. This is an annual release that provides information on business ‘births’, defined as new registrations for VAT or PAYE. Business Demography does not capture the smallest, non-employing business start-ups which do not register for VAT or PAYE.
There are a number of official statistics that provide information on the size of the business population. Each source will be suitable for different specific purposes. Sources include:
- Companies House provides information on the total number of incorporated companies that are filing documents to Companies House. Two figures are provided: the ‘total’ register, which includes companies that are trading, dormant and in the process of liquidation or dissolution, and the ‘effective’ register, which includes those trading, dormant and in receivership, but excludes those companies in the process of liquidation or dissolution.
- Business Population Estimates, which provide the only estimate of the total UK business population. It includes information on incorporated companies and unincorporated sole proprietorships or partnerships.
- UK Business, which provides more detail on the business population that has registered for VAT or PAYE.
The Insolvency Service reports the most complete picture on insolvency statistics, including company liquidations and individual insolvencies, as it has policy responsibility for all forms of corporate insolvency in England and Wales. Compulsory liquidations published in the tables that accompany this release differ from those published by the Insolvency Service. The Insolvency Service’s compulsory liquidations statistics are sourced from their administrative systems. All other forms of company insolvency published by the Insolvency Service are on the same basis as those published by Companies House.
(Comparability refers to the degree to which data can be compared over time and domain)
Figures for 1979 to 2008 are for Great Britain. In October 2009, the Northern Ireland register merged with the register for Great Britain to create a UK register. Figures from 2009 to 2010 onwards are for the UK and therefore are not directly comparable with earlier figures.
Figures for 1979 to 1986 are for the calendar year 1 January to 31 December. Those for 1986 to 1987 onwards are for the financial year 1 April to 31 March and are not directly comparable with those for earlier years.
The period 2009 to 2010 was a time of significant change for the register:
- The Northern Ireland register was included to create a UK register, as described above;
- There was a change in the administrative system that forms the register;
- There was a purge on the register to remove defunct companies that had spent an extended period in the process of dissolution or liquidation;
- Legislative changes were introduced under the Companies Act 2006, which reduced the time taken to dissolve companies and remove them from the register.
These changes in combination are likely to have had an impact on both the numbers of incorporations and dissolutions, and on the sizes of the total and effective registers. Care should be taken when comparing figures from 2009 to 2010 onwards with those from earlier years.
Accessibility and clarity
(Accessibility is the ease with which users are able to access the data. It also relates to the format in which the data are available and the availability of supporting information. Clarity refers to the quality and sufficiency of metadata, illustrations and accompanying advice)
Companies House’s statistics are available free of charge to the end user on the Companies House website. They are released via the gov.uk Publication Hub. Historic data are also published on the National Archives website.
The statistical releases are published in html format and contain additional commentary explaining the main findings. Data tables are published as Excel files. The quarterly data is also published in csv format, with annual data being published in this format for the 2015 to 2016 publication onwards.
Views on the clarity of the publication are welcomed by emailing email@example.com.