By Daniel Hunter

Legal experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell have welcomed the announcement by business minister Jo Swinson to reduce the amount of information firms have to submit to the government - but they have urged the Government to use the opportunity to listen carefully to the needs of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

One of the key stipulations is the removal of the legal requirement for businesses to submit an annual return. This covers details such as company name, location, type of organisation, as well as information about shareholders. A consultation has been launched and the review will close on November 22nd 2013.

Instead of resubmitting the records every year, firms will be able to confirm that the data held by Companies House is still correct, saving them lots of time and effort. It could have positive financial implications too, as many businesses pay a third-party organisation to file this information.

Ms Swinson believes the reforms - should they be approved - will benefit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular.

"Cutting unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape for businesses will help build a stronger economy," she remarked.

"It is only right that as well as doing this we also make sure that the information available on a company is accurate and transparent."

Dr Roger Barker, director of corporate governance and professional standards at the Institute of Directors, said it is important that Companies House has up to date records on all businesses trading in the UK, but this should not put undue strain on SMEs.

“It’s is good to see that the Government recognises that SMEs have too much red tape to deal with and that much of it can stifle economic growth and the ability of these businesses to generate jobs and support the wider economy," Steve Beahan, a partner at Irwin Mitchell said.

"This is a good opportunity for smaller businesses to have their voice heard, but it is also an excellent opportunity for the Government to listen.

“Many SMEs will welcome this news but will be watching keenly to ensure these words are converted into real action.”

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