VAT Register

ODUG developing business case

This data request has been included in the work ODUG is undertaking on the UK VAT Register. For further information, please see

Data request description: 
This dataset should contain non-sensitive information from VAT registration forms for non-incorporated companies on the VAT Number, Business Name & Address, Legal form, contact information (telephone, fax, email, website), business activities (e.g. SIC code), turnover, date of establishment, date of registration, ceasing registration & other business associations.
The data is subject to restrictions because of commercial confidentiality
The data for unincorporated data is not currently made available within the Companies House information (which only covers incorporated companies).
Suggested use: 
Business Use
Members of the Business Information Providers Association and other organisations would use the data to improve the accuracy of business decisions in the UK. This could take the form of providing better credit scores to lenders so successful small businesses could access credit facilities that they are currently denied. Current scores are estimated to be 40% lower than they should be due to the lack of data. The Business Secretary has proposed setting up a new Bank to handle this lending. The release of this data would enable existing lenders to provide reliable, compliant lending decisions without any further government funding (reported to be £1 billion). This data would enhance current decisions which are currently made on an absence of negative data by giving access to positive data. It could also help cut the risk of fraud which has been seen to be rising in recent years (9% increase in 2011 of commercial fraud).
Benefits overview: 
Safer, more reliable lending decisions for unincorporated businesses leading to better access to funding for successful organisations. This will encourage these businesses to grow which benefits the entire country (UK PLC & society).


HMRC, not Companies House

Apologies for my error in the request. The data is actually held by HMRC, not Companies House. Please accept my apologies for the innaccuracy. If I can edit my earlier post, I will.

Kind Regards,

Paul Malyon

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Company data are messy

I am surprised that you see turnover as non-sensitive!  In some circumstances (such as a working proprietor) it could even be regarded as personal data.

I'm a bit out of touch with this area now, but my recollection is that a business may have several VAT numbers, none of which necessarily align with the entity that might be applying for a loan.

The Holy Grail in this area might be the business register used by the Office for National Statistics, which draws together information from the VAT and PAYE systems, and also incorporates information from Companies House and probably elsewhere too.  However, I understand that this involves substantial matching exercises; VAT and PAYE systems use different units, and neither matches cleanly with CRN at Companies House (not surprising, that, given that the entity registered at CH may operate internationally).  The different setups used in different contexts presumably reflect companies' wishes rather than government guidance.

I understand that an important task within the business register is coming up with a definitive SIC code for a business.  I believe they code direct from business descriptions provided to the various systems but these descriptions are likely to fall foul of Exstat's Law of Administrative Databases - if nothing important depends on getting the information right, it's unliklely to be high quality!  The moral here is that SIC codes on any one administrative system are not necessariy reliable.

Of course, there are probably as many businesses unregistered for VAT as there are registered, so your request would not help with them.

I very much doubt that the business register will become open data.  However, my main purpose in posting is to warn that anything that is released could be (a) messy and (b) not quite what you expect it to be.

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