Public policy interventions made in 2020 provided more time for the work necessary to ensure that published financial information continues to be of the quality that preparers and users of financial information expect.
The measures that remain valid today are summarised below:
Corporate Reporting for listed companies – we have provided temporary relief for listed companies
- An additional 2 months to publish annual financial reports (ie within 6 rather than 4 months of the financial year end date).
- An additional month to publish half yearly financial reports (ie within 4 rather than 3 months of the financial half year end date).
Temporary reliefs for delayed publication of financial statements will remain in place until the disruption abates. When we decide to bring any of these measures to an end we will give companies plenty of notice so they have time to plan for the change.
Extended period for filing accounts at Companies House
Currently the deadline for filing any accounts with Companies House is extended by 3 months. While this automatic extension expires on 5 April 2021, it will be replaced with an application process to Companies House, with companies granted a discretionary 3-month extension where they cite coronavirus as a factor impacting the timely completion and/or audit of accounts.
Only one filing extension is permissible for an accounting period and the extension cannot take the filing date later than 12 months after the end of the accounting period.
Delaying or adapting Annual General Meetings (AGMs)
The temporary ability to postpone AGMs provided by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (CIGA) expired on 30 September 2020. However, this will not prevent listed companies from taking advantage of the bulk of our temporary reliefs for listed companies noted above.
Further CIGA measures to provide flexibilities around the conduct of AGMs have been extended to 30 March. The Act provides no scope to extend them beyond that date. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are working with stakeholders on further guidance.
Extension of reporting deadlines for public sector bodies
The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government introduced easements to local authority processes last year. These included postponing local government elections to May 2021, enabling councils to hold remote meetings for the same period and extending the audit publication deadlines for 2019/20 to 30 November.
Ministers have also committed to extending the audit publication deadlines to 30 September for the next 2 financial years to give public bodies and their auditors more flexibility in closing local public bodies’ accounts.
We have also put temporary measures in place to ease challenges for certain corporate transactions. We have summarised these in issue 27, issue 28 and issue 31 of our Primary Market Bulletin.