Byline: Diane Rayner
Stern questions have been asked in Parliament about business regulations and red tape that is stifling and slowing down small businesses.
The Government responses show that they quite genuinely believe they are improving the situation. So baffling are the number and variety of regulations that it is hard to know if they are telling the truth or whether the whole thing is just a wonderful example of smoke and mirrors.
Nigel Griffiths reassured Sir Nicholas Winterton last week that nearly half the 3,990 new regulations in 2003 related to road closures and did not affect business at all.
Mr Griffiths also assured us that Britain was one of the top ten countries in the world for fewest regulations. He went on to state that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has found that Britain has the lowest administration costs of any EU country.
Meanwhile small businesses all over the country struggle with a mounting pile of new problems that the Government heap on their heads. Most of the new regulations are employment based which is a shame because taking on new employees and expanding businesses is really the root of our economic growth and the area that small businesses excel in. Acas says that 25 per cent of small and medium sized firms aren't familiar with recent changes in employment law. Are you surprised? Getting the contracts, balancing the books, doing the work is all more pressing than looking up the new laws.
The trouble is that we need rules and regulations in employment matters just as we do in any area of life.
Whether we are employed or employing, ground rules such as those involving health and safety are important; knowing that everything has been done that can be done to prevent accidents is reassuring. …