No red tape respite in sight

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Companies in the south west are continuing to struggle under the weight of red tape, despite successive Governments’ promises to cut these burdens.

According to the findings from the latest Red Tape Watchdog survey, conducted twice yearly by accountancy firm Bishop Fleming, more than half of the region‘s owner-managed businesses (53%) saw the cost of handling red tape increase by up to £5k or more over the previous year.

Most of the region‘s business owners (56%) say that they are spending about the same amount of time as last year on red tape, while 42% are spending “significantly more time than a year ago”.

Bishop Fleming chairman Jerry O’Sullivan commented: “We launched this twice-yearly survey of south west business owners seven years ago, in response to a promise by the then Labour Government to build a ‘bonfire of red tape’.

“Every six months, throughout those seven years, we have seen a relentless rise in the time and money our respondents have to spend on red tape.

“The coalition Government’s Vince Cable has also promised a massive reduction in red tape, but less than 3% of our latest survey respondents reported a reduction in the time or cost of handling red tape.”

Most survey respondents (60%) do not believe that Dr Cable will achieve his promise to reduce red tape, compared to just 6% who say that he will succeed.

Asked why successive governments seem unable to cut red tape, 34% said that most red tape generates revenue for the Government, so they have a vested interest. More than a quarter (26%) blamed the UK Government‘s determination to comply with EU regulations.

While the Government has launched a debate on reducing employment tribunal pressures on employers, 43% of Bishop Fleming respondents identified employment regulations as the red tape that they would most like to see abolished or simplified.