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29 November 2016

FSB calls for transparency for regulation

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is concerned the Government's drive to bear down on the burden of red tape on UK businesses is not delivering enough gains for business, as set out in a report by the influential Committee of Public Accounts (PAC).

The public spending watchdog says the Government has made limited progress towards its £10 billion target to reduce the cost of regulation on business. In one absurd finding, most of the 'savings' made are not genuine savings at all, but revenue generated by the new plastic bag levy. The Government, however, decided that this doesn't apply to small businesses in England. Meanwhile, regulation such as the National Living Wage – which the report says is expected to cost more than £4bn - is excluded from the target, altogether. The Committee listened to FSB's evidence concerning the exclusion of tax administration and other regulatory costs from the scope of the target and addresses this in its report and announcement.

Fundamentally, FSB supports the Government's attempts to try and reduce the regulatory burden, however this is impossible without clear information of what the burden actually is. FSB is talking to the Better Regulation Executive (BRE) and Ministers about adopting the PAC's recommendations to develop a much better understanding of the cost of regulation imposed on business.

Graham Buck, regional chairman for FSB said: "Members tell us regulation is the number one issue they want this Government to focus on. The Regulatory Policy Committee has an important role to play, and we want them to reflect this growing role by affording it greater powers and scope. We support the Government's drive to de-regulate, but we are not seeing the current full regulatory picture or evidence of changes on the ground. In addition, it is concerning that many government departments don't know the cost of existing regulations. We want to see the Business Secretary pressing his Cabinet colleagues, celebrating those departments that 'think small first', and naming and shaming those that don't.

He continued: "This agenda needs to be tackled if small business owners are to trust that Government wants to make their life easier. We urge them to act on this report, so small businesses don't feel so overwhelmed by regulation."

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