Companies House speeds online drive, cuts 250 jobs

Companies House is looking to cut up to 250 jobs by 2013 as part of its plans to move from a paper-based processing organisation to an electronic registry.

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Companies House is looking to cut up to 250 jobs by 2013 as part of its plans to move from a paper-based processing organisation to an electronic registry.

The Cardiff-based government agency aims to make most of its documents ready for digital transactions by March 2013.

It expects to process 92 percent of all transactions by volume, which includes incorporations, accounts and annual returns, covering 98 percent of companies, by then. The remaining non-standard company types and transactions will continue to have a paper option while an electronic service is being developed for them.

“In doing this we will be providing our customers with more efficient, more secure and more accurate services at significantly reduced cost compared to traditional paper-based transactions,” Companies House said.

As part of the plans to become wholly electronic, the organisation will cut between 200 and 250 jobs, a quarter of its existing 985-strong workforce, over the next three years. Companies House has cut more than 150 full-time employees over the past four years, and the latest job cuts are expected to hit some IT staff as well.

Last week the organisation launched a voluntary redundnacy scheme. “We will be running a range of exit schemes that will allow staff access to voluntary early severance and retirement options for those in the appropriate age ranges. As such, we do expect that these reductions can and will be achieved on an entirely voluntary basis,” said Companies House.

Companies House said that it will pass on in full the savings it makes by going digital, through lower fees. Customers pay 25 percent and 50 percent lower fees for electronic incorporation and electronic annual returns, respectively, compared to the paper service.

“The expected savings to our customers from lower fees will be more than £2 million based on current filing patterns,” the organisation said.

The Public and Commercial Services union said that the government is looking to strip out IT, HR, finance and procurement functions from smaller agencies and move them in large shared service centres, which are likely to be located in England.

Mike Crimmins, chair of the Public and Commercial Services union’s Companies House branch, said: "It is not at all clear that the efficiencies generated by electronic filing of company documents can justify cuts on the scale being proposed by 2014/15.

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