Companies House is allowing the public to have free access to statutory accounts in data format for the first time ever.
Companies House launched its Free Accounts Data product last week, which allows anyone to download accounts information free of charge in a ZIP file.
Data is only available on electronically filed accounts, and Companies House said the tool will “open up financial data on companies, increasing transparency and making data analysis more efficient.”
Companies House is part of the public data group and said it is committed to the UK’s ‘open data’ agenda.
The tool was developed with funding from the Public Sector Transparency Board.
A new file will be added daily over a five day period of Tuesday to Sunday and will only contain the accounts data registered on the previous day.
The data will be available in one of two formats – either inline iXBRL or XBRL format. Each file will be available to download for 60 calendar days, after which it will be removed, but remain available via the previous years’ monthly files.
AccountingWEB associate editor Jennifer Adams said that while this development won’t make a lot of difference to SME clients apart from removing the fee, it is something that should be pointed out to prospective company directors on formation.
“Many are not aware of the detail has always been available and is even more freely available now.
“It was something that was always on the cards, otherwise why charge such a small amount originally? It could not have been cost effective. The cost savings will be for the credit agencies and banks, as they wont have to pay a fee any more,” she said.
Accounts make up 28% of all purchased companies information from Companies House, something it said was the basis for opening up the data.
“Issuing the product with no fee attached would remove any barriers to entry, providing an opportunity for innovation and entrepreneurship,” it said.
Business minister Michael Fallon said that the UK is at the forefront of a “data revolution”.
“Today’s free release of company accounts data by Companies House is an excellent example of how we are increasing access to data and transparency,” he said.
“Open company data can benefit everyone; entrepreneurs, taxpayers, businesses and the public sector. Better data efficiency encourages innovation, delivers better public services and stimulates growth through new revenue streams.”