Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Mooncalf Economics Ltd

Here's a dilly of a press release issued yesterday by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills jointly with Companies House:

Free Companies House data to boost UK economy

Companies House is to make all of its digital data available free of charge.

... As a result, it will be easier for businesses and members of the public to research and scrutinise the activities and ownership of companies and connected individuals ...

It will also open up opportunities for entrepreneurs to come up with innovative ways of using the information ...

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "The government firmly believes that the best way to maximise the value to the UK economy of the information which Companies House holds, is for it to be available as open data. By making its data freely available and free of charge, Companies House is making the UK a more transparent, efficient and effective place to do business" ...

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said: "The UK is an international leader in open data because it sharpens accountability, exposes waste and informs choice over public services. It is also the raw material of our age, providing opportunities for entrepreneurs to create new data-led businesses and fuel growth as part of this government’s long-term economic plan" ...
It raises a few questions:
Free [how much will that cost?] Companies House data to boost UK economy [how?]

Companies House is to make all of its [whose data is it really?] digital data available free of charge [how much will that cost?].

... As a result, it will be easier for businesses and members of the public to research and scrutinise the activities and ownership of companies and connected individuals [easier to find the name, address, age, nationality and profession of officers of the company – would that be a good thing? Why?] ...

It will also open up opportunities for entrepreneurs to come up with innovative ways of using the information [such as?] ...

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "The government firmly believes [why?] that the best way to maximise the value to the UK economy of the information which Companies House holds, is for it to be available as open data. By making its data freely available and free of charge, Companies House is making the UK a more transparent [in what way?], efficient [in what way?] and effective [in what way?] place to do business" ...

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said: "The UK is an international leader [is it? Would that be a good thing?] in open data because it sharpens accountability, exposes waste and informs choice over public services [suppliers of public services are not always registered with Companies House, e.g. the Cabinet Office]. It is also the raw material [traditionally, businesses pay for their raw materials. Companies and partnerships have paid to submit their data to Companies House. Why should others have access to it for free? Especially if they are able to make money out of it themselves?] of our age, providing opportunities for entrepreneurs to create new data-led businesses [such as?] and fuel growth [how?] as part of this government’s long-term economic plan" ...
Does anyone  know the answers? Apart from Vince Cable, Francis "JFDI" Maude, Nigel Shadbolt, Stephan Shakespeare and Tim Kelsey – we know they don't.

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Hat tip:


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Updated 27.7.18

It's four years since we posed the question above what innovative ways would entrepreneurs find to use Companies House's free information. We returned to the matter a month later in connection with open data and, in December 2015, in connection with public sector information.

Now at last we have the answer, Half a million companies followed: "Once you've registered for CHS you can begin following companies you have an interest in. When a company updates their details you’ll receive an email telling you what’s changed".

You've always been able to monitor companies using DueDil's Monitor service. Or, indeed, Companies House's own WebCheck service: "You can also choose to monitor a company, and receive email alerts of any new documents filed at Companies House" (© Crown Copyright 2014).


The answer is none. There has been no innovation. Four years and a lot of wasted effort later, nothing has happened. So much for transforming government end-to-end.

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