Government launches digital tool for firms to report energy data

Service will allow users to submit information via XBRL

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The government has developed a digital tool to allow businesses to meet their new carbon-reporting obligations.

From 1 April 2019, almost 12,000 large and mid-sized firms across the UK have been required to provide annual information on their energy usage and measures they have taken to improve efficiency. Larger corporations run as limited liability partnerships are required to do so in a dedicated yearly report, while other businesses can include carbon data in the directors’ report section of their annual accounts.

Other businesses outside of the scope of the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) legislation are also invited to provide this data on a voluntary basis, should they so wish.

Three government agencies have jointly developed a “taxonomy” – a system of classifying digital assets – that allows for this information to submitted in XBRL format. 

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Based on the XML data format, XBRL is the technology framework through which a large number of businesses already file their financial reports.

“Many companies already submit accounts using XBRL, but this is the first time it has been utilised to capture environmental data in annual reports,” said a joint press release from the Financial Reporting Council, Companies House, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Director of digital at Companies House Ross Maude said: “This is a fantastic example of cross-government working to deliver a digital service that addresses an important issue. Understanding the role businesses have in reducing energy and carbon emissions is central to delivering the UK’s ambition to reach net zero by 2050. Through effective collaboration, we can make it easier for businesses to play their part.”

Companies House and the Financial Reporting Council are jointly responsible for ensuring businesses comply with the new legislation.

Jennifer Guest, project director for taxonomies at the FRC, said: “Enabling companies to file their SECR reports digitally within their annual financial report is an important step in improving transparency of companies’ energy reporting. The SECR taxonomy has been carefully designed so it can be used with other accounting taxonomies making it simple and easy to use.”


Sam Trendall

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