Companies House: ‘We’re transforming every aspect of our operation’
Chief executive Louise Smyth looks ahead to a year of change
Credit: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay
At the end of a hectic year for government, senior figures from across the civil service took part in PublicTechnology sister publication Civil Service World’s annual perm secs round-up to discuss how an eventful 12 months affected them and their organisation, and look ahead to 2023.
Click here to read more from a wide selection of government leaders.
Companies House chief executive Louise Smyth discusses an ongoing and wide-ranging programme of reform at the business registry.
What has been your highlight of the last 12 months?
My highlight has to be the Register of Overseas Entities, the first of its kind in the world, which we launched in August. We delivered it in just three months when the government brought forward legislation much earlier than anticipated due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A huge amount of work went into delivering it so quickly and in many ways it’s a model for how we want to work in the future.
The second economic crime and corporate transparency bill, which was introduced to parliament in September, builds on this achievement. It’s a big moment for Companies House and the culmination of several years’ work by colleagues at CH working together with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. It will bring about fundamental changes to how we operate and enable us to play a greater role in tackling economic crime. We’ve wanted to do this for a long time, and we will now have the powers to go further and to prevent the misuse of companies and other corporate entities.
What was your most difficult decision in 2022?
I’ve had to ask a lot of people as we prepare to implement the legislative reforms. It’s a huge and complex task, with people taking on additional work on top of their day jobs and going the extra mile to get things done. Our people are brilliant, so I knew that we’d come together to deliver but, nevertheless, I’m grateful that that they have stepped up to the challenge and recognise the significant pressures that they had to deal with.
What is the biggest challenge facing your organisation in 2023, and how are you preparing to meet that challenge as an organisation?
Our number-one priority will be implementing the legislative reforms and changing what we do. It’s an exciting time for us and we’re transforming every aspect of our operation – systems, processes, skills and expertise – to ensure that we embrace our new powers and make a step change in how we support the economy and our users. Managing expectations will be important: we’ll be able to make a real difference in some areas quite quickly, others will need more time before we can achieve the full extent of our ambition.
And personally, as a leader?
I want to ensure that all our people feel supported through our transition to the new Companies House; that they understand our new role and the legislative changes and have the skills and capacity to deliver. The challenge will be to take everyone with us as we implement the changes, but I believe that we can do it!
It's not only Santa who has to work at Christmas. What is your best, worst or weirdest experience of working in the festive season?
My best experience – judging the hotly contested annual Christmas decorations competition in Companies House. Christmas decorations doesn’t really do this extravaganza of creativity justice, with whole teams involved in imaginative and very funny takes on Christmas stories. It’s great fun. The only downside is the number of festive treats I have to eat along the way – I always feel slightly queasy by the end of it.
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