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Press release: Reforms to Companies House to clamp down on fraud and give businesses greater confidence in transactions

  • Compulsory identity verification to be introduced to help trace people who are committing fraud or money laundering
  • Companies House will be given greater powers to query, investigate and remove false information
  • changes will give businesses confidence in who they are doing business with, with greater accuracy of data on the register, without impacting the speed of service

The UK’s register of company information will be reformed to clamp down on fraud and money laundering, the government has announced today (Friday 18 September).

Under the plans, directors will not be able to be appointed until their identity has been verified by Companies House.

The changes aim to increase the reliability of the data showing who is behind each company so that businesses have greater assurance when they are entering transactions with other companies, such as when small businesses are consulting the register to research potential suppliers and partners.

It will also improve the ability of law enforcement agencies, such as the National Crime Agency, to trace their activity for suspected fraud or money laundering. Identity verification will take place through a fast, efficient, digital process and is expected to take a matter of minutes.

These reforms will not impact on the typical speed at which a company or organisation is formed and other filings are completed. Most companies will be able to be incorporated easily within 24 hours as is the case now.

Data on Companies House informs many transactions between businesses and underpins credit scores and lending decisions. Register data was accessed 9.4 billion times in the last year, and research suggests it is worth up to £3 billion per year to users.

The government’s full response to the Corporate Transparency and Register Reform consultation has been published today. The reforms will give Companies House more powers to query and reject information, to improve the quality of data on the register, as well as affording users greater protections over their personal data, to help protect them from fraud and other harms.

Minister for Corporate Responsibility Lord Callanan said:

We are committed to making the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business. The reforms we are making to the Companies House register will provide businesses with greater confidence in their transactions.

Mandatory identity verification will mean criminals have no place to hide – allowing us to clamp down on fraud and money laundering and ensure people cannot manipulate the UK market for their own financial gain, whilst ensuring for the majority that the processes for setting up and running a company remain quick and easy.

Where any new controls are introduced, Companies House will keep the burden on business as low as possible and will continue to look for ways to make incorporation and access to its services as smooth as they can be.

For example, to facilitate the new identity verification requirement, Companies House will develop a fast, efficient, 24/7 digital verification process to minimise any strain on business, and prevent delays in incorporations and filings.

The government will consult on further changes to make Companies House more useful and usable, including reforms to the filing of company accounts.

Broader transformation of Companies House systems and processes will bring further business benefits through streamlining and digitising processes and improving the user experience.

The government will bring forward legislation to enact the reforms to the register when Parliamentary time allows.

Louise Smyth, chief executive of Companies House, said:

We are pleased that these significant and far-reaching changes are being announced.

We know how valuable our data is, not just to businesses but to law enforcement and these reforms will unlock that value even further.

Driving confidence in the UK economy is at the very heart of our plans to modernise Companies House, and we already have a substantial transformation programme in place to bring the government’s ambition to life.

Security Minister James Brokenshire said:

We must use all the tools at our disposal to stop criminals profiting from their offending.

These changes will give law enforcement and the private sector more accurate information to crack down on dirty money and financial exploitation, to protect our security and prosperity.

The changes are a result of the government’s 2019 consultation on Corporate Transparency and Register Reform. The government response is available on the consultation page.

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Consultation outcome: Corporate transparency and register reform

The consultation considers reform to the information we require companies to disclose, increasing the checks on this information and measures to improve the exchange of intelligence between Companies House and UK Law Enforcement bodies.

The consultation seeks views on a series of reforms to limit the risk of misuse:

  • knowing who is setting up, managing and controlling companies
  • improving the accuracy and usability of data on the companies register
  • protecting personal information on the register
  • ensuring compliance, sharing intelligence and other measures to deter abuse of corporate entities

The views of the following people and organisations would be particularly useful:

  • directors of companies (and officers of other corporate entities; see note above)
  • company shareholders and the investor community
  • business representative bodies
  • trust and company service providers and other professional bodies
  • wider civil society groups
  • academics and think tanks
  • members of the public
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Press release: Venues required to enforce rule of 6, NHS QR code posters and contact logs

  • Regulations come into force today to ensure that businesses comply with the rule of 6 and maintain social distancing between customers
  • businesses failing to comply could be issued with fines of up to £4,000
  • designated venues will also will now have a legal requirement to maintain records of customer contact details and display an official NHS QR code poster ahead of the rollout of the NHS COVID-19 app

Hospitality venues in England are from today (18 September) legally required to enforce the rule of 6 or face a fine of up to £4,000.

Designated businesses and organisations, including hospitality, close contact services and leisure venues, will also be legally required to log details of customers, visitors and staff for NHS Test and Trace and from Thursday 24 September they will be required to display official NHS QR code posters under law ahead of the NHS COVID-19 app being rolled out nationally next week.

A majority of businesses and organisations have been playing their part in tackling the virus by putting in place COVID-secure measures in their venues, but new legal requirements will make it compulsory for them to do so or risk facing a fine:

  • from today, pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in England will now need to take bookings of no more than 6 people, ensure people are not meeting in groups of more than 6 people on their premises, and make sure there is sufficient space between tables
  • it will be also mandatory for a wider range of businesses and organisations, including hospitality, close contact services and leisure venues to collect customer, visitor and staff contact detail logs from today, Friday 18 September. This is vital for the NHS Test and Trace service in England to contact the necessary people if coronavirus outbreaks are identified in venue.
  • from Thursday 24 September, these businesses will also need to display the official NHS QR code posters to make it easier for people to check-in at different premises once the app is rolled out nationally. If individuals choose to check-in using the QR code poster they do not need to log in via any other route

The regulations will be enforced by Local Authorities, who will have the power to issue fines of up to £1,000 for venues that are failing to comply, or the police as a last resort. Fines will rise to up to £4,000 for repeat offenders.

Businesses will be expected to make sure their customers are aware of the rules around QR codes by displaying posters and speaking to customers directly.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

It is vital we do all we can to control the spread of the virus. Businesses have already stepped up to ensure they are supporting the NHS Test and Trace effort, and it is essential contact logs and displaying NHS QR codes are mandatory so there is consistency across the country and the public can seamlessly provide their details.

Venues should record and maintain contact details logs for customers, visitors and staff, and they should also download an official NHS QR code poster for their premises ahead of the launch of the NHS COVID-19 app.

With cases rising, it is vital NHS Test and Trace continues to reach as many people as possible to prevent further transmission of the virus. Businesses have a duty to ensure this function is in place, and those not complying will face fines.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:

With cases on the rise, each and every one of us needs to play our part to control the virus and to save lives.

Businesses up and down the country have taken great steps to welcome customers back safely, but at this critical moment in the fight against the virus, we need to take these tough measures to reduce the risk of another national lockdown in the future.

In order to keep these venues open and protect jobs, it is absolutely vital that businesses comply with these new regulations and make sure their customers are following the rules.

When someone enters a venue and scans an official NHS QR code poster, the venue information will be logged on the user’s phone. The device will check if users have been at that location at the relevant time and if the app finds a match, users will get an alert anonymously with advice on what to do based on the level of risk.

The Rule of Six regulations apply to hospitality venues, including pubs, bars, restaurants.

Services included in the new legal requirements are:

  • hospitality, including pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés
  • tourism and leisure, including gyms, swimming pools, hotels, museums, cinemas, zoos and theme parks 
  • close contact services, including hairdressers *facilities provided by local authorities, including town halls and civic centres (for events), libraries and children’s centres  

Notes to editors

  • It will be an offence for a business to fail to adhere to the rule of 6 (respecting all exceptions to this) when taking a booking, allowing entry to a group of more than 6 people. Once groups are within the premises, businesses also risk offending if they fail to advise groups not to merge in ways that breach the rules is also an offence
  • businesses will also need to ensure adequate distance between tables (2m or 1m+) and prevent customers from dancing. The following information should be collected by the venue for those people that have not checked-in using the QR poster
  • customers and visitors will need to provide their name and, if there is more than one person, record the name of the ‘lead member’ of the group and the number of people in the group (maximum of 6)
  • they will also need to leave a contact phone number for the lead member of a group of people (maximum of 6), date of visit and arrival and, where possible, departure time
  • if a customer will interact with only one member of staff (for example a hairdresser), the name of the assigned staff member should be recorded alongside the name of the customer.  No additional data should be collected for this purpose
  • venues will be required to collect the names of staff who work at the premises. A contact phone number for each member of staff and the dates and times that staff are at work
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Notice: Green distilleries competition

In his 2020 Budget speech, the Chancellor announced £10 million of new research and development funding to help distilleries go green. To meet net zero by 2050, all industries, including distilleries, must decarbonise as far as possible.

Phase 1 now open to applications

Phase 1 of the green distilleries competition will provide up to £500,000 in funding for feasibility studies looking into developing technologies that enable the use of a low carbon fuel in a distillery.

The invitation to tender and documents required to complete an application are available on Contracts Finder.

Phase 2 of the competition will consider applications to pilot key components or further develop the design of the new fuel switching solutions.

The programme will take a portfolio approach and aims to fund a range of different solutions which could include electrification, hydrogen, biomass or waste. In addition, enabling technologies will be considered and could include fuel conversion, transportation or storage.

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Notice: Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator

The Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator (SHDF Demonstrator) will start the decarbonisation of social housing over 2020/21, and will support green jobs as part of the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.

This £50 million programme will support social landlords to demonstrate innovative approaches to retrofitting social housing at scale.

We plan to launch the competition in October 2020. The competition will be open to applications from local authorities and local authority-led consortia.

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Press release: Government backs UK companies tackling dangerous ‘space junk’

  • Currently there are approximately 160 million objects in orbit – mainly debris – which could collide with satellites vital to services we use every day

  • UK Space Agency and Ministry of Defence sign formal agreement to work together on monitoring threats and hazards in orbit

Seven pioneering projects which will develop new sensor technology or artificial intelligence to monitor hazardous space debris, have been announced today by the UK Space Agency.

The UK Space Agency and Ministry of Defence have also announced the next step in their joint initiative to enhance the UK’s awareness of events in space.

Estimates of the amount of space debris in orbit vary, from around 900,000 pieces of space junk larger than 1cm to over 160 million orbital objects in total. Only a fraction of this debris can currently be tracked and avoided by working satellites. The UK has a significant opportunity to benefit from the new age of satellite megaconstellations – vast networks made up of hundreds or even thousands of spacecraft – so it is more important than ever to effectively track this debris.

Today’s investments will help bolster the UK’s capabilities to track this space junk and monitor the risks of potentially dangerous collisions with satellites or even the crewed International Space Station.

Projects backed today include Lift Me Off who will develop and test machine learning algorithms to distinguish between satellites and space debris, and Fujitsu who are combining machine learning and quantum inspired processing to improve mission planning to remove debris.

Two companies, Deimos and Northern Space and Security, will develop new optical sensors to track space objects from the UK whilst Andor, based in Northern Ireland, will enhance their astronomy camera to track and map ever smaller sized debris.

D-Orbit UK

D-Orbit UK will use a space-based sensor on their recently launched satellite platform to capture images of space objects and couple this with Passive Bistatic radar techniques developed by the University of Strathclyde.

Finally, new satellite laser ranging technologies will be researched by Lumi Space to precisely track smaller space objects.

Last year there was a close call in which a £100 million spacecraft operated by the European Space Agency (ESA) had to light up its thrusters to dodge a satellite. A clash between the spacecraft was far from certain, but the trajectories posed enough of a threat that ESA concluded that they need to manoeuvre the spacecraft out of harm’s way.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:

Millions of pieces of space junk orbiting the earth present a significant threat to UK satellite systems which provide the vital services that we all take for granted – from mobile communications to weather forecasting.

By developing new AI and sensor technology, the seven pioneering space projects we are backing today will significantly strengthen the UK’s capabilities to monitor these hazardous space objects, helping to create new jobs and protect the services we rely on in our everyday lives.

Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency said:

People probably do not realise just how cluttered space is. You would never let a car drive down a motorway full of broken glass and wreckages, and yet this is what satellites and the space station have to navigate every day in their orbital lanes.

In this new age of space megaconstellations the UK has an unmissable opportunity to lead the way in monitoring and tackling this space junk. This funding will help us grasp this opportunity and in doing so create sought after expertise and new high skill jobs across the country.

The funding coincides with the signing of a partnership agreement between the Ministry of Defence and UK Space Agency to work together on space domain awareness. This civil and military collaboration aims to bring together data and analysis from defence, civil and commercial space users to better understand what is happening in orbit to ensure the safety and security of UK licensed satellites.

Building on the UK’s current efforts, which has seen the UK Space Agency and RAF analysts working together since 2016, this agreement will further improve our space domain awareness capabilities.

It could also provide opportunities to work alongside global allies, such as the US, to support our continued work to enhance space sustainability and maintain the UK space industry as a global leader.

The UK is already a world-leader in small satellite technology, telecommunications, robotics and Earth observation, and our universities host some of the best minds in the world for space science. Space surveillance and tracking (SST) is a growing international market which space consultants Euroconsult and London Economics forecast could potentially reach over £100 million.

ENDS

Projects in detail

Note: Confirmation of projects led by Andor and Lumi Space are still subject to final agreement

Lumi Space

Lumi Space are working on photonic technologies for ranging and characterisation of space objects, from satellites down to space debris. Satellite laser ranging is an ideal method for precise tracking of space objects, and innovations developed by Lumi enable high-performance, low-cost systems to do this. This project is for continuation of Lumi R&D.

Deimos

This project focuses on the design, prototyping and demonstration of a Low-Cost LEO Optical Surveillance Sensor. The core work is an integrated processing board to conduct all necessary image calibration and data extraction operations used as a standalone or multiple-aperture “multiple-eye” design. A ‘40×40 squared degrees one-eye’ prototype will be built together with the software systems to control and process the images and will be demonstrated during an observation campaign. In the final solution, ‘’9 eyes’’ will be combined.

Lift Me Off

The project is concerned with developing machine learning algorithms for in-orbit detection and classification of satellites and space debris using a combination of space-based sensors and artificial intelligence. The technology will be able to distinguish between satellites operating nominally and anomalously together with understanding the composition of space debris on-orbit. A prototype test bed with representative sensors, electronics and algorithms will be built to experimentally develop the concept and techniques which can be later scaled up to an end-to-end autonomous algorithm for detection of anomalous behaviour that can, similarly to air traffic control, raise warnings based on live information.

D-Orbit

D-Orbit UK will exploit a new capability to enable routine, targeted space-based LEO SST observations using D-Orbit’s ION Satellite Carrier Vessel, a platform with a multi-year lifetime and propulsion capability, to offer an unprecedented opportunity to observe debris both passively and actively. ION star trackers will be repurposed to capture images of space objects for processing on board and on ground, coupled with Passive Bistatic radar techniques developed by the University of Strathclyde, which uses third party illuminators to characterise resident space objects. NORSS will process, associate, integrate and support the commercialisation of the data within wider SST services.

Fujitsu

Fujitsu, in conjunction with its partners, Astroscale, the University of Glasgow and Amazon Web Services (AWS), are undertaking a project to develop a proof of value to make space debris removal missions more commercially viable using its open innovation methodology. It will be evaluating how to optimise trajectory planning for multi-debris removal missions. Fujitsu is bringing together its ground-breaking quantum inspired optimisation services, which benchmark studies prove are up to 10,000 times faster than traditional computers, along with a 40 year heritage in space in Japan. In combination with Astroscale’s space debris removal expertise, the University of Glasgow’s space research capabilities and AWS Cloud and Machine Learning services, the project will support the UK’s ambition to grow its share of the global space market to 10% by 2030.

The project involves the industrial research to rapidly design and deploy an extremely low-cost prototype optical camera system to track objects in Low Earth Orbit. Designed from the ground up, the sensor will be competitive with radar observations for providing both UK independent space surveillance and tracking data and characterisation data of objects. The project is split into 6 phases and once deployed the camera will perform a live observation campaign acquiring positional and photometry data on space objects culminating with a validation exercise against a real-world experimental debris removal mission operated by Astroscale.

Andor

Detection of Low Earth Orbit debris of smaller sizes is of increasing importance due to the ongoing increases in quantities of both Satellites and potentially satellite destroying in-orbit debris. Traditional CCD cameras have a significant (40 second) read out ‘dead time’ which considerably limits their application in detection of small in-orbit debris. The proposed project is intended to make significant improvements to Andor’s Balor very large area (17 megapixel / 70mm diagonal) scientific CMOS camera. Balor is ideal for large sky surveys that measure photometric and astrometric variability across timescales ranging from milliseconds to tens of seconds. The proposed project will significantly increase Balor’s sensitivity resulting in considerably faster imaging and/or enabling the tracking of smaller in-orbit debris.

A report by Dr Mark Hilborne (King’s Space Security Research Group) and Dr Mark Presley (MAP Analytica), called Towards a UK space surveillance policy, has been published by the King’s Policy Institute. It positions a UK space surveillance policy and examines the utility of a nationally assured space surveillance capability.

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Research and analysis: Heat, energy efficiency, smart technology and health review

[unable to retrieve full-text content]A review of evidence from high-income countries on the relationships between heat, energy efficiency, smart technology and health.
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Guidance: European Structural and Investment Funds procurement documents

Published 17 February 2017
Last updated 15 September 2020 + show all updates

  1. Version 7 – reflecting the changes made to procurement thresholds every 2 years, and addresses a number of common issues which have recently been identified in A125/A127 visits.

  2. ESIF National Procurement Requirements were updated to version 6 on 16 August 2019 to take account of updated breaches and associated penalties put into place by the European Commission.

  3. The ESIF National procurement requirements has been amended and changes made to Chapter 6, in particular the National Rules in version 5. Version 4 of the requirements issued in December 2016 included a new paragraph at section 25 about delegated grant schemes but this has caused some confusion and led to misinterpretation of the content. We have decided to remove this paragraph which means that when the national rules apply to a contract, the requirements in the table at section 23 need to be followed. The aim of this change is to reduce the risk of misinterpretation and to ensure simplification by applying the same requirements for everyone following the national rules. These changes are effective from the date of publish and is not retrospective.

  4. First published.

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National Statistics: Road fuel prices: 14 September 2020

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News story: Chair of UK Accounting Standards Endorsement Board appointed

  • Chair appointed to lead new board that will endorse and adopt international accounting standards at the end of the transition period
  • international accounting standards are used in over 125 countries, to increase transparency for investors and facilitate investment
  • the board will ensure the UK can continue to play a key role in the global development of these standards

Pauline Wallace has been appointed as the inaugural chair of the UK Accounting Standards Endorsement Board (UKEB).

The UKEB has been set up to endorse and adopt new or amended international accounting standards on behalf of the UK, when the transition period comes to an end.

The board will conduct research to ensure that the UK is at the forefront of developing opinions in accounting. It will also actively contribute to the development of financial reporting internationally, helping to ensure that UK views are effectively represented in this important area.

International accounting standards are in use in over 125 countries, including all G20 countries, enabling increased transparency, accountability and efficiency in the flow of capital between countries.

And they facilitate investment across borders by making it easier to compare accounts in multiple jurisdictions.

The UKEB will enable the UK to continue to play a leading role in international financial reporting and ensure the UK retains its status as home to one of the strongest capital markets in the world.

Minister for Corporate Responsibility Lord Callanan said:

Effective international accounting standards support vital global investment.

The new UK Accounting Standards Endorsement Board will ensure we continue to have a say in how those standards are set, helping deliver our aim to make our country the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

Pauline has a wealth of experience and knowledge of the UK accounting sector, and I am delighted to be able to appoint her to this important role.

Chair of the UK International Accounting Standards Endorsement Board Pauline Wallace said:

This is a pivotal moment for UK capital markets as we transition to UK adoption of international accounting standards.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead the UKEB as it undertakes this important task and to ensure that the UK continues to play a key role in the development of these standards globally.

About Pauline Wallace

Pauline has over 30 years’ experience in the development of accounting standards, both as a practitioner and as a standard setter. As a partner in PwC she established and led the global financial instruments accounting team before heading their UK public policy team. Since retiring from PwC, she served two terms on the Regulatory Decisions Committee of the FCA and is currently a member of the Determinations Panel at the Pensions Regulator. She is also a Director of Paradigm Trust, a multi-academy trust, and Chair of their Audit and Risk Committee.

About UKEB

  • Regulations made in 2019 confer the endorsement and adoption of international accounting standards function to Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy at the end of the transition period. These powers will be delegated to the UKEB as soon as it is fully operational, which is expected to occur in early 2021
  • this includes the recruitment of seven to 14 Board members, to be selected after an open competition and appointed by the Chair, with approval from the Secretary of State
  • the Secretary of State will be responsible for endorsement and adoption of international accounting standards during the interim period and until the board is sufficiently operational
  • the UKEB’s role includes the endorsement and adoption of new or amended international accounting standards issued by the International Accounting Standards Board
  • it will report to the Secretary of State on technical matters and to the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) Board on its governance and due process procedures. The Secretary of State will lay the UKEB report on the discharge of its delegated functions before Parliament annually. Read further information on the UKEB
  • UK-adopted international accounting standards will be mandatory in the UK for listed companies when preparing their consolidated financial statements for financial years that begin after the transition period. Read further information on the accounting standards for UK companies after the end of the transition period