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United Kingdom

Beneficial ownership – UK (UK0063)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: United Kingdom – Third National Action Plan 2016-18

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Support Institution(s): Cabinet Office; mySociety, Natural Resource Governance Institute, ONE, Publish What You Pay UK, The Open Data Institute, Transparency International UK

Policy Areas

Beneficial Ownership, E-Government, Open Contracting and Procurement, Records Management

IRM Review

IRM Report: United Kingdom End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, United Kingdom Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Objective: The proposed beneficial ownership register will bring greater transparency to who bids on public contracts and owns or buys UK property. Status quo: We currently do not collect or publish this information Ambition: From 6 April 2016, all UK companies are required to hold a register of People with Significant Control (PSC) and from 30 June 2016 UK companies will start providing PSC information to the Companies House public register. The UK is a founding country of the initiative for the automatic exchange of beneficial ownership information. This commitment will require foreign companies who own or buy property in the UK, or bid on central government public contracts, to identify and register their beneficial owners.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

1. Beneficial ownership

Commitment Text:We will establish a public register of company beneficial ownership information for foreign companies who already own or buy property in the UK, or who bid on UK central government contracts.

Objective:The proposed beneficial ownership register will bring greater transparency to who bids on public contracts and owns or buys UK property.

Status quo:We currently do not collect or publish this information.

Ambition:From 6 April 2016, all UK companies are required to hold a register of People with Significant Control (PSC) and from 30 June 2016 UK companies will start providing PSC information to the Companies House public register. The UK is a founding country of the initiative for the automatic exchange of beneficial ownership information. This commitment will require foreign companies who own or buy property in the UK, or bid on central government public contracts, to identify and register their beneficial owners.

Milestones:

1. The intention is to consult by the end of the year.

2. Introduce primary legislation in the third Parliamentary session.

Responsible Institution: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Supporting institution(s): Cabinet Office, mySociety, Natural Resource Governance Institute, ONE, Publish What You Pay UK, The Open Data Institute, Transparency International UK

Start date: May 2016

End date: March 2018

Commitment Aim:

This commitment follows from the second national action plan's push towards beneficial ownership transparency.[Note 1: Worthy, Ben ‘Offshore Tax Havens and Beneficial Ownership: A Quick Primer', https://opendatastudy.wordpress.com/2016/04/03/offshore-tax-havens-and-beneficial-ownership-a-quick-primer/ ] The commitment involved publishing details of beneficial ownership of UK-registered business owners via the Person with Significant Control register. The new commitment aimed to extend the register to companies that bid on public contracts and own or buy property in the UK. This stemmed from government and CSO concerns that London was being used to invest illicit money from overseas.

Status

Midterm: Limited

In March 2016, just before the beginning of the third action plan cycle, the government published a discussion paper looking for views on how to enhance the transparency of beneficial ownership.

The consultation was completed two months after the March 2017 deadline specified. In 2017, a new consultation paper asked for views on the register.[Note 2: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Overseas companies and other legal entities' beneficial ownership register: call for evidence, https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/property-ownership-and-public-contracting-by-overseas-companies-and-legal-entities-beneficial-ownership-register] The paper was published on 5 April 2017. Those consulted were asked to respond by 15 May 2017 and the government published its response outside of the timeframe in March 2018.[Note 3: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Overseas companies and other legal entities' beneficial ownership register: call for evidence, https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/property-ownership-and-public-contracting-by-overseas-companies-and-legal-entities-beneficial-ownership-register; see also Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, The Government response to the call for evidence, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/681844/ROEBO_Gov_Response_to_Call_for_Evidence.pdf]

The changes in law require primary legislation to alter property registration. Although the deadline for the milestone was April 2018, the Queen's Speech announcing the legislative agenda did not mention it.[Note 4: Cabinet Office (2017), The Queen's Speech 2017, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/620838/Queens_speech_2017_background_notes.pdf ]

End of term: Substantial

In January 2018, the UK government committed to a 12-month timetable for legislation. In 2018 the government announced that it[Note 5: The Guardian (2018), May to set timetable to reveal foreign owners of UK property, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jan/17/theresa-may-set-timetable-reveal-foreign-owners-uk-property; also House of Lords (2018) Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill [HL] - Third Reading, https://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2018-01-24a.1024.2#g1024.3; and UK Public Register of Overseas Entity Beneficial Ownership: Written statement - HCWS425, https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2018-01-24/HCWS425/] intends to legislate to establish a public register of beneficial owners of non-UK entities that own or buy UK property, or participate in UK Government procurement.[Note 6: UK government (2018), UK Public Register of Overseas Entity Beneficial Ownership: Written statement - HCWS425, 48th January 2018, https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2018-01-24/HCWS425/; and UK government (2018) ‘Draft registration of overseas entities', https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/draft-registration-of-overseas-entities-bill ] The word ‘establish' could be taken to mean putting into operation or setting it up.

The new draft register bill was published on 23 July 2018, after the April 2018 deadline set forth in the action plan. It was left open for consultation until September 2018.[Note 7: DBEIS (2018), Overview Document: Draft Registration of Overseas Entities, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/727901/2._FINAL_Overview_document__1___1_.pdf] Though the commitment did not specify an end date for the operation of the new register, the government committed to having a register in place and operational by 2021. Some critics in the Labour Party felt the date was too far into the future and lobbied for a closer one.[Note 8: The Guardian (2018), May to set timetable to reveal foreign owners of UK property, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jan/17/theresa-may-set-timetable-reveal-foreign-owners-uk-property]

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Did Not Change

Civic Participation: Did Not Change

The policy aimed to open a new area of private sector activity and ownership to public scrutiny. Though estimates vary on the exact size, it is likely a new register would make transactions worth billions of pounds much more transparent, especially given the size and importance of the London property market.[Note 9: Transparency International Faulty Towers: Understanding the impact of overseas corruption on the London property market, http://www.transparency.org.uk/publications/faulty-towers-understanding-the-impact-of-overseas-corruption-on-the-london-property-market] However, at the time of writing this report, the primary legislation was not yet passed, and the establishment of the secondary register fell far outside the timeline of the two-year plan. At the final time of writing, the draft bill is being considered by a joint parliamentary committee. Therefore, this commitment has not yet resulted in any changes.

Carried Forward?

Given the lengthy timetable for implementation, the commitment will continue. Commitment 6 of the UK government's draft ideas for its next action plan (2018-2020) seeks to ‘improve compliance, coverage and quality of publication to Contracts Finder so that all above threshold public contracts can be tracked from planning to final spending'. This will involve using the register data itself, and connecting it to open contracting through, ‘improving the use and validation of organisation identifiers will help to provide a view of government business with specific organisations and will help identify the geographic origin and beneficial ownership of those organisations.'[Note 10: UK Government (2018), Consultation draft of the National Action Plan for Open Government 2018 – 2020, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1XGUs6X8EHSOm00U-rX2_8cAoq7MnDsBjnetQeW0vnzA/edit#heading=h.y5i6179pcs8d ]


United Kingdom's Commitments

  1. Grants Data

    UK0090, 2019, E-Government

  2. Public Participation

    UK0091, 2019, E-Government

  3. Open Policy Making

    UK0092, 2019, Public Participation

  4. Open Contracting Data

    UK0093, 2019, E-Government

  5. Natural Resource Transparency

    UK0094, 2019, E-Government

  6. Innovation in Democracy Programme

    UK0095, 2019, Public Participation

  7. Sustainable Open Government

    UK0096, 2019, Capacity Building

  8. Local Transparency

    UK0097, 2019, E-Government

  9. Beneficial ownership – UK

    UK0063, 2016, Beneficial Ownership

  10. Natural resource transparency

    UK0064, 2016, Extractive Industries

  11. Anti-Corruption Strategy

    UK0065, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  12. Anti-Corruption Innovation Hub

    UK0066, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  13. Open contracting

    UK0067, 2016, E-Government

  14. Grants data

    UK0068, 2016, E-Government

  15. Elections data

    UK0069, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. Revising Freedom of Information Act Code of Practice

    UK0070, 2016, Open Contracting and Procurement

  17. Identifying and publishing core data assets

    UK0071, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  18. Involving data users in shaping the future of open data

    UK0072, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Better use of data assets

    UK0073, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. "http://gov.uk/","GOV.UK"

    UK0074, 2016, Open Data

  21. Ongoing collaborative approach to open government reform

    UK0075, 2016, E-Government

  22. Open Government at all Levels

    UK0076, 2016, OGP

  23. Open Policy-making and Public Engagement

    UK0077, 2016, Capacity Building

  24. Public Sector Innovation

    UK0078, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. OCDS Implementation

    UK0079, 2016, E-Government

  26. Open-up Government

    UK0080, 2016, Capacity Building

  27. Open data plan

    UK0081, 2016, E-Government

  28. Open data service

    UK0082, 2016, Capacity Building

  29. StatsWales

    UK0083, 2016, E-Government

  30. Data Research Centre Wales

    UK0084, 2016, E-Government

  31. Government Social Research Publication Protocol

    UK0085, 2016, E-Government

  32. Gov.Wales

    UK0086, 2016, E-Government

  33. Code of Practice in Supply Chains

    UK0087, 2016, Labor

  34. Starred commitment National Indicators for Wales

    UK0088, 2016, Fiscal Transparency

  35. Starred commitment Well-being duty

    UK0089, 2016, E-Government

  36. National Information Infrastructure

    UK0042, 2013, Records Management

  37. NHS England Website and Network

    UK0043, 2013, Health

  38. Revised Local Authories Data Transparency Code

    UK0044, 2013, Capacity Building

  39. Transparent Social Investment Market

    UK0045, 2013, Open Data

  40. Manage and Capture Digital Records

    UK0046, 2013, Capacity Building

  41. Starred commitment Cross-Government Anti-Corruption Plan

    UK0047, 2013, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  42. Starred commitment Company Beneficial Ownership Information

    UK0048, 2013, Beneficial Ownership

  43. Access to Police Records

    UK0049, 2013, Justice

  44. Transparency in Construction

    UK0050, 2013, Infrastructure & Transport

  45. Legislative Openness

    UK0051, 2013, Beneficial Ownership

  46. Whistleblowing

    UK0052, 2013, Legislation & Regulation

  47. Open Contracting

    UK0053, 2013, Open Contracting and Procurement

  48. Open Contracting Scotland

    UK0054, 2013, E-Government

  49. Starred commitment International Aid Transparency

    UK0055, 2013, Aid

  50. Health Care Data

    UK0056, 2013, Health

  51. Open Policy Making

    UK0057, 2013, E-Government

  52. Sciencewise

    UK0058, 2013, E-Government

  53. Publication of Draft Legislation

    UK0059, 2013, Legislature

  54. OpenDataCommunities Programme

    UK0060, 2013, E-Government

  55. PSI Re-Use Directive

    UK0061, 2013, Legislation & Regulation

  56. Starred commitment Extractive Transparency

    UK0062, 2013, E-Government

  57. Ensuring a clear process to support reduction in collection of ‘unnecessary data’

    UK0024, 2011, E-Government

  58. Developing data.gov.uk and identifying other digital channels to support users

    UK0025, 2011,

  59. Evidence and databases behind policy statements

    UK0026, 2011, E-Government

  60. Data underlying surveys

    UK0027, 2011, E-Government

  61. Examining ways for improving the use of existing published data

    UK0028, 2011, E-Government

  62. Stimulate the market for innovative use of open data

    UK0029, 2011, Open Data

  63. Spend up to 5% of budget support on accountability

    UK0030, 2011, E-Government

  64. Include the OGP eligibility criteria to determine readiness for UK budget support

    UK0031, 2011, Aid

  65. Publish aid information from all ODA government departments

    UK0032, 2011, Aid

  66. Use a single domain for government services

    UK0033, 2011, E-Government

  67. Mandate ‘channel shift’

    UK0034, 2011, E-Government

  68. Go online for all consultations

    UK0035, 2011, E-Government

  69. Develop practical guidelines on departmental access to internet and social media

    UK0036, 2011, Civic Space

  70. Open data and application interfaces in ways that encourage businesses

    UK0037, 2011, E-Government

  71. Create cross-government standards on APIs

    UK0038, 2011,

  72. Establish standardised formats for user-satisfaction data

    UK0039, 2011, Records Management

  73. Provide government documents in open standard format

    UK0040, 2011, E-Government

  74. Implement crowd-sourcing and engagement processes

    UK0041, 2011,

  75. New power to secure release of valuable datasets

    UK0001, 2011,

  76. New, higher cost cap for FOI

    UK0002, 2011, Right to Information

  77. Meaningful disincentives

    UK0003, 2011,

  78. Maximum time limits

    UK0004, 2011, Right to Information

  79. Altered procurement rules

    UK0005, 2011,

  80. Mandating phased introduction of ‘Public by Default’

    UK0006, 2011, E-Government

  81. Formalising Public Data Principles

    UK0007, 2011, Records Management

  82. Having in place an Open Data compliance monitoring process

    UK0008, 2011, Records Management

  83. Making clear the minimum citizens can expect on publication and quality of data

    UK0009, 2011,

  84. Ensuring a line of continuous improvement for public service providers

    UK0010, 2011, Open Data

  85. Encourage continuous improvement

    UK0011, 2011, Records Management

  86. Setting out how citizens can challenge where there is failure in the process

    UK0012, 2011, Public Participation

  87. Establishing an obligation to consider and act on user feedback

    UK0013, 2011, Public Participation

  88. Making clear that licenses must cover free, commercial re-use

    UK0014, 2011,

  89. Merge information asset registers…into a single data inventory

    UK0015, 2011,

  90. Set consistent expectations of the appropriate quality of meta-data

    UK0016, 2011, Records Management

  91. For data co-ordinated across government, set definitions

    UK0017, 2011, E-Government

  92. Introducing corporate responsibility at Transparency Board level

    UK0018, 2011, Records Management

  93. Strengthening and broadening the Public Sector Transparency Board

    UK0019, 2011, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  94. Bringing the Sector Transparency Board model to other parts of public sector

    UK0020, 2011, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  95. Reviewing the existing governance and regulatory model

    UK0021, 2011, Records Management

  96. Establishing a framework for public service providers data inventories

    UK0022, 2011, Records Management

  97. Developing a clear methodology to support intelligent inventories

    UK0023, 2011, Records Management