Headlines: October 2nd, 2008

The full impact of council enforced regulations on businesses is set out in a survey of a thousand companies carried out by Ipsos MORI for the formal launch of the Local Better Regulation Office. It shows that seven out of ten of them feel the regulations can be as big a burden as tax and employment law.

Clive Grace, who chairs LBRO, said the survey was the most comprehensive picture yet of the impact of local regulation on business. “There is a clear message here from business that robust and reliable advice from local authorities is important, and that the regulated are looking for the regulators to provide more support. We are an organisation that acts upon evidence and the survey gives us an invaluable insight as we start our formal role to lead the drive for better local regulation,” he said.

The study found that a third of those firms trading across three or more council areas had received inconsistent compliance advice from different local authorities. Nine out of ten businesses had never been consulted by a local authority on the enforcement of trading laws governing areas such as consumer protection and health and safety and a tenth of firms felt local regulators who had contacted them did not know enough about their companies.

A majority of the businesses, however, valued council support and just under two thirds reported that they were generally satisfied with the regulatory services provided by local councils.

Kieran O’Keeffe, a senior policy adviser at the British Chambers of Commerce, said the results highlighted the scale of the challenge facing the LBRO, which has been set up to help local authorities improve their regulatory services and to reduce the regulatory burden on law abiding businesses while improving protection for consumers, workers and the environment.