Red tape is set to stick, says small business

SME owners fear the Government's drive to cut red tape is doomed to fail. And that's before Nick Clegg dropped the scissors.

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 02 Dec 2010

According to the Forum of Private Business, only 28% of SME owners believe the Coalition government can make the blindest bit of difference to the maze of regulations they face.

Some 40% of respondents said they didn't think the Coalition would significantly reduce the amount of legislation threatening to suffocate small firms, while the remaining 32% said they didn't know whether they'd manage it or not.

That's hardly a ringing endorsement for our leaders, who came into power proudly brandishing their anti-red tape metaphorical scissors. In July, for example, Nick Clegg was harping on about the Freedom Bill, which pledged to 'strip away the excessive regulation that stops businesses from innovating'.

Clegg asked people to log in to Your Freedom, a Cabinet Office-run website, and state what they'd like changed: 46,000 ideas later, he's now given up and palmed it off on to the Home Office to turn into a smaller bill. Deregulation measures were aimed at freeing business from odious constraints, but they've been stripped out to make it less complicated. We hope the civil servants filled out four forms before doing that.


The Forum's research manager, Thomas Parry, expressed fears that the country is 'past the point of no return,' when it comes to red tape, which is now taking on the appearance of a snaking menace that threatens to suck everyone under. Parry reckons that we'd need a 50% reduction in how long bosses spend filling out forms for the changes to be properly effective.

'Too much detail' was apparently Clegg's reason for giving up on the Freedom Bill. How odd that his solution should be dragged down by the exact problem that SME owners were unhappy with in the first place...

How much of a burden is red tape to you? Share your experiences below...

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Books for the weekend: Daniel Goleman, Jack Welch, Nelson Mandela

Beaverbrooks CEO Anna Blackburn shares her reading list.

What happens next: COVID-19 lessons from Italian CEOs

Part I: Marco Alvera, chief executive of €15bn Lombardy-based energy firm Snam, on living with...

Coronavirus communications: Dos and don'ts

Uncertainty and isolation make it more important than ever to be seen, to be heard...

Leadership lessons: Mervyn Davies, former CEO of Standard Chartered and trade minister

"People talk about pressure – I worked 24 hours a day. There is more pressure...

How to reinvent your career through motherhood and midlife

Pay it Forward podcast: Former Marie Claire editor-in-chief Trish Halpin and BITE managing editor Nicky...