We've Heard It All before, Mr Brown; Small Businesses Unimpressed by Budget Pledges to Cut Red Tape

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), March 20, 2005 | Go to article overview

We've Heard It All before, Mr Brown; Small Businesses Unimpressed by Budget Pledges to Cut Red Tape


Byline: JENNY LITTLE

The Budget was not one for business. While pensioners celebrated their free bus travel and council tax refunds last Wednesday, small business owners wondered what - if anything - was in Gordon Brown's speech for them.

There was talk of cutting red tape, reducing the number of inspectorates that deal with business from 35 to nine, predicting that this would curb unnecessary visits. But business leaders have heard it all before.

Carol Undy, chairwoman of the Federation of Small Businesses, doubts that this promised assault by the state on paperwork will materialise.

A recent report for the Government from the Better Regulation Taskforce recommended a system of 'one in, one out' for new regulation to simplify bureaucracy. Undy would like to see this advice acted on.

She says: 'The Better Regulation Taskforce report is certainly radical, but whether there will be a ''fundamental change'' and ''a red tape revolution'' remains to be seen. Businesses are cynical because of broken promises.'

Keith Chetwynd has been running RK Engineering in Atherstone, Warwickshire, for 24 years and has found the burden of regulation a major hindrance to his company's growth.

Keith, 56, says: 'I laughed when I heard the Chancellor trumpeting Britain's economic growth - my firm isn't growing.

'Gordon Brown has done nothing to help competitiveness and has just created a climate of fear among business owners.

'I spend most of my time battling to keep up with health and safety laws and new rules and regulations. I felt it was a cynical Budget targeted at the easy vote.'

Research and development was on the agenda again. A regular complaint among smaller businesses is that they struggle to win public sector contracts against larger competitors.

The Chancellor vowed that at least 2. …

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