Headlines: May 2nd, 2000

Policy makers are ignoring Government guidance to ‘think small’ when drafting regulations, according to research from the Better Regulation Task Force.High among its criticisms is that Government departments are working in isolation and failing to work together to mitigate the impact of their separate regulations on small businesses.

“Helping Small Firms Cope with Regulation – Exemptions and Other Approaches”, finds that there is inadequate recognition of the position of the majority of British businesses, 99% of which are small or medium sized.

It also suggests that the level of expertise required of managers and owners of small businesses is more than would be expected of any individual in a large business or public sector organisation. The demands put smaller companies at a disadvantage in the marketplace.

There are also criticisms in the communication of regulations – which are often very generally drafted and incur cost for businesses in getting expert advice.

Despite the report’s title, the task force is not recommending general exemption for small firms. It recommends a range of options, including more help for smaller enterprises in complying with regulation. In the longer term, it recommends that the implications for smaller enterprises be assessed at an earlier stage in policy decisions about new regulation.

The full text of the report is on the Better Regulation Task Force website at http://www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/regulation/index/task.htm.