Business owners sceptical over Coalition

Nia Williams

November 10, 2010

A study by the not-for-profit Forum of Private Business found that just 28% of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) believe the Tory/Lib Dem Coalition will make a noticeable difference to the rules and regulations they face.

A sizeable 40% of respondents said they did not think the Coalition will significantly reduce the amount of legislation small firms have to comply with. The remaining 32% on the Forum’s Red Tape research panel said they did not know whether or not the Government would achieve its stated aim of regulation reduction.

Many Forum members on the panel also submitted comments outlining why they doubted the Coalition’s ability to cut red tape. The main reason given was the historical failure of similar initiatives in the past but an overwhelming 89% of those surveyed said they felt that legislators do not understand how regulations affect small employers.

Others claimed that civil servants and other policy-makers would get in the way of Tory attempts to streamline UK workplace law. The Government’s reliance on the leaders of large corporations for advice on business regulation was also a concern.

The Forum’s research manager, Thomas Parry, said: “Traditionally, there’s always been a lot of support for the Conservative party among small business owners, so you would expect them to have a fair amount of faith in the Coalition’s pledge to cut red tape.

“However, it would appear that many small firms feel as though we are now past the point of no return with legislation – there’s a sense that because there’s so much of it and it’s so deeply embedded in our legal framework, any attempts to tackle it are doomed to failure.”

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