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Companies House has announced that it is not going to force compulsory electronic filing on users by 2013 as previously planned.

This unexpected move follows a decision by the Government not to unleash any new adminstrative burdens on small business until 2014.

Companies House says on its website: "Instead of focussing in the short term on the process to mandate, we will devote our resources to improving digital services for customers, including assisted digital services for businesses who need help using digital services, and make them the service of choice."

"The biggest challenge is to drive the take-up for the electronic filing of company accounts. We are committed to using the iXBRL format for collecting accounts data, which is the same approach adopted by HMRC. We will work with the software industry to build on the work already done to meet the requirements of HMRC for submitting accounts electronically and in doing so make any change as simple as possible for companies and their agents. This will build on the success of the joint accounts filing service launched last year."

Editorial comment:

It is early days for the joint filing service and the claimed "success" does not appear to be detectable from the comments of any of our accountant users who resent having to retype out their accounts, or according to postings on internet forums. HMRC has already announced that users of its services cannot file CT returns for FY 2011 online until October 2011 due to delays in updating software.