EU Remain lead 'narrows amongst businesses' as referendum approaches


Welcome to the June 2016 Newsletter in association with Aequitas Accountants Ltd. With the EU referendum fast approaching, many businesses are weighing up the pros and cons of voting to leave or remain a part of the EU. As politicians continue to hotly debate the issue, recent data from the British Chambers of Commerce suggests that the 'Remain' lead has narrowed among business leaders, although a majority of those polled in their final survey intend to vote to stay in the EU.

Meanwhile, under new legislation UK companies must begin providing information to Companies House regarding 'persons with significant control' (PSCs), with effect from 30 June onwards. We provide an overview of the key requirements.

EU Remain lead 'narrows amongst businesses' as referendum approaches
In its final pre-referendum poll, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found that the gap between the Remain and Leave campaigns has narrowed, although a majority of the senior businesspeople surveyed (54.1%) intend to vote to remain in the European Union in the referendum on 23 June.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Adam Marshall, BCC Acting Director General, said: 'As the EU referendum campaign enters the final straight, the race for the business vote has clearly tightened'.
In the survey, those trading with other EU markets expressed the strongest support for the Remain campaign, while businesspeople representing large firms were found to be significantly more likely to vote Remain than those in micro-businesses.

The BCC survey also suggested that many individuals are now committed to their voting preferences. Only a minimal amount of respondents (0.3%) stated that they were as yet uncommitted, while 10.8% said that they could potentially change their mind before the referendum.

Other key findings included:

  • For the majority of business leaders, the referendum has had no material impact to date on various aspects of their business
  • However, many reported that they expect to see significant impacts following the referendum, especially in the event of a vote to leave
  • Were the UK to leave the EU, 35.9% reported that they would expect a negative impact on their overall growth strategy, whilst 15.9% believe that it would have a positive impact
  • Should the UK remain in the EU, 12.8% expect this to have a negative impact on their overall growth strategy, while nearly a third (30.1%) believe that it would have a positive impact.

Dr Marshall added: 'Whichever outcome prevails, Westminster must shift its attention back to the economy on June 24 without delay. Growth is softening, and Westminster's referendum 'tunnel vision' over the past year has meant that far too many key economic issues have been given short shrift or delayed altogether.'

Companies required to produce a register of 'persons with significant control'

Recent changes to company law have imposed new obligations on UK companies, as well as those holding interests in UK companies.

Following the changes, UK companies are now required to produce a 'persons with significant control' (PSC) register, containing details of the ultimate beneficial owners of the company.

This information must be filed with Companies House, where it will be held in a public register, with the stated aim of improving the level of transparency of UK companies.

The requirement for companies to keep a PSC register came into effect on 6 April 2016, and under the regulations companies must:

  • Identify the people with significant control over the company and confirm their information
  • Record the details on the company's own PSC register
  • Provide this information to Companies House as part of the annual Confirmation Statement (formerly the Annual Return) from 30 June 2016, and update the register on an ongoing basis.
    Companies must look beyond the individuals who immediately own their shares, in order to identify those individuals or entities which ultimately have significant control of the company.

A PSC is defined as an individual to whom one or more of the following applies:

  • either directly or indirectly holds more than 25% of the shares in a company
  • either directly or indirectly holds more than 25% of the voting rights in a company
  • has the right to appoint or remove a majority of a company's board of directors
  • exercises, or has the right to exercise, significant influence or control over the company
  • exercises, or has the right to exercise, significant influence or control over the activities of a trust or firm which is not a legal entity, and which itself meets one of the above conditions.

Notice must be given by the company to any people or entities that it believes are registrable for the PSC, allowing one month for the recipient to provide confirmation of their position. Any individual who knows, or ought reasonably to know, that they should be registered is also required to notify the company of their interest.

Information on the company's own PSC register must be updated on an ongoing basis. Under the new 'check and confirm' process, which replaces the Annual Return, companies will supply a confirmation statement affirming whether the information remains up-to-date. Failure to comply with the new rules could potentially result in significant financial penalties and a criminal conviction.

Aequitas help with all aspects of managing your business, including your company secretarial requirements. Please contact Aequitas for assistance.

1 June -New advisory fuel rates applicable.
30 June -End of CT61 quarterly period.
Annual adjustment for VAT partial exemption calculations (March VAT year end).