Martin Houlden

A few days ago, I received a polite email from Companies House, informing us that our emails were not complying with section 82 of the Companies Act 2006. Oh good, I now had to talk to someone from the public sector, and make them listen to reason. Experience suggested this was not going to be a simple process…

The issue was to do with a small (yet annoying and relatively pointless) piece of legislation, that insists all company emails should have their full details within them – including the companies registered address. Now this seem reasonable in principle, but back in 2006 when this law was introduced, we tried to comply, but found lots of our post going to the wrong place.

You see, our company operates at three different addresses, and so we have our registered address recorded as out accountants office. This is a common practice and avoids having to update records each time an office location changes. However when we added this information into our email footers, we found a dramatic increase in post being sent to them (no matter how many times we told our clients!) and it caused a lot of problems and delays. The simple solution seemed to be to include two addresses, one for the registered office, and one for the actual office… but having two addresses didn’t cut down the confusion!

So, tasked as I was to try and solve the problem, I dialled the number for Companies House Compliance Department, and readied myself for an afternoon’s worth of ‘blood out of a stone’ jobsworthiness.

Now, I’ll admit that I do occasionally like to ‘do a Victor’ and attempt to instil a bit of common sense into those who are bereft of it (especially public sector organisations), and so I have several choice phrases at my disposal designed to win an argument. So I was slightly miffed when, having explained the situation, the lady on the other end of the phone simply said “Yes, I can see your point, ok let’s see if we can find a sensible solution”.

After a few seconds of stunned silence, I thanked her and we proceeded to come to a very acceptable result, whereby we’d include our office address, but also include a link to the registered address on the main website. This seemed very sensible to me, and shouldn’t give us any problems with post redirection either. But then I started thinking…

Who was this mystery lady? Do her bosses know she’s being polite and efficient? And if so, what plans do they in place to put a stop to that sort of behaviour as soon as possible?

Of course this recent experience may have simply brought my attention to a wider shift in practises within organisations that are publicly funded. I find myself wondering if it’s possible that the impending cuts to the public sector have managed to focus the minds of those employed there?

If so, it’s win-win as far as I’m concerned. Less national debt, and at the same time we’re getting efficient employees who don’t want to hinder growth in the private sector. I only have one question:

Can someone promote this lady to the head of the Civil Service?

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