Drowning in red tape, Darling

More good news for Labour: a report claims it's burdened business with £66bn in red tape since 1997...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

If you’ve been thinking that the cost of compliance has been crippling your business this year, the British Chambers of Commerce has come up with some figures to support your theory. According to its annual Burdens Barometer survey, the cumulative cost to business of new regulations brought in since 1998 has now hit £66bn. That means the total has risen by a whopping £56bn since 2001 – and £10bn in the last year alone.

The BCC picked out two particular culprits, both of which it thinks should be urgently reviewed. The Data Protection Act of 1998 has apparently already cost businesses £7bn, while the Flexible Working Regulations of 2002 have cost £1.6bn (with the likelihood of further costs to come as flexible working becomes more accepted).

The laughable thing is that the Government has supposedly been trying to simplify the tax regime – the Regulatory Reform Act of 2001 and the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act five years later were both intended to streamline regulations. But according to the BCC, there have been a measly 30 such motions passed since the original bill – while about 300 additional regulations have been brought in every single year. So it looks rather like the Government is failing to deliver on its promises…

Still, you’ll no doubt be pleased to hear that the tide is clearly turning. This year there were (count ‘em) three cost-savings measures introduced – one of which, the Fire Regulatory Reform Order, saved a massive £67m. That’s an amazing 0.1% off the total bill! Hurrah!

Just don’t spend it all at once, will you...

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