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Coronavirus prompts three-month Companies House accounts filing extension

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Companies House has announced a three-month extension to the to the year-end accounts filing deadline in response to the impact of COVID-19 coronavirus.

A statement issued jointly by Government and Companies House yesterday (March 26) gave detail of the move and coincided with a joint announcement from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) which also granted listed companies an extra two months to publish their audited financial reports.

Businesses are being asked to complete a 15-minute online application process to ensure that they receive the Companies House extension, with those citing COVID-19 or health issues as the reason guranteed an automatic and immediate extension.

This extension – a joint initiative between Government and Companies House – means that businesses can “prioritise managing the impact of Coronavirus”.

However, there may be an exclusion if you have already lengthened or shortened the accounting period affected.

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Speaking in response to the announcement of a three-month filing extension, business Secretary, Alok Sharma, said: “We have outlined a business support package on an unprecedented scale, backing companies and their employees through these challenging times.

“But it is important that our support is not limited to financial assistance. We are determined to help businesses in any way we can, so that they can focus all their efforts on dealing with the impact of Coronavirus, and this new offer of a three-month extension for filing accounts is part of that.

Companies House chief executive, Louise Smyth, said: “We recognise that these are uncertain times for businesses and that’s why we’re doing all we can to help.

“By easing the burden, we can help businesses through this period and enable them to thrive in the future.

“I would encourage companies who believe they would benefit from this new flexibility to make an application in good time.”

There are around 4.3 million businesses on the Companies House register, and all companies must submit their accounts and reports each year.

Under normal circumstances, companies that file accounts late are issued with an automatic penalty.

This week's joint statment from the  FCA, FRC and PRA said that it was "important to recognise that, while the reduction in activity associated with Covid-19 could be sharp and large, it is likely to rebound sharply when social distancing measures are lifted".

It added that, while capital markets rely on timely, accurate information, companies and their auditors currently face "unprecedented challenges in preparing and auditing financial information".

In response, the three authorities have made the following changes to help support businesses:

  • A statement today by the FCA allowing listed companies an extra two months to publish their audited annual financial reports.
  • Guidance from the FRC for companies preparing financial statements in the current uncertain environment. This is complemented by guidance from the PRA regarding the approach that should be taken by banks, building societies and PRA-designated investment firms in assessing expected loss provisions under IFRS9.
  • Guidance from the FRC for audit firms seeking to overcome challenges in obtaining audit evidence.

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