70 per cent of SMEs say cutting red tape should be top government priority

New research from global insurer Zurich shows that over two thirds of British SME decision makers want the government to focus on cutting red tape. This ranks more highly than improving access to finance and reviewing employment legislation (36 per cent) in the list of top 3 SME priorities.

This desire for cutting red tape rises to 76 per cent amongst SMEs in the North of England and 74 per cent in the Midlands. In London this figure is 60 per cent, which while below average, still ranks as their top priority. Manufacturing SMEs put the greatest emphasis on the reduction of red tape with construction and financial services companies closely following.

When senior SME decision makers were asked to rank their top 3 regulatory challenges, employment regulations topped the list (37 per cent), followed by health and safety (28 per cent) and pensions (21 per cent). The concern with employment regulations is also reiterated by the fact almost one in five small businesses view employment tribunals & legal proceedings as a top business threat.

Richard Coleman, Director of SME at Zurich Insurance said: “Ensuring that Britain has the most accommodating regulatory environment for small businesses is obviously essential to helping SMEs grow, prosper and attract further investment at home in the UK and from abroad

“While most businesses would accept there’s a vital need for regulation in areas such as health and safety, UK SMEs are clearly looking for simplification to focus on what they do best – fuelling economic growth.

“The fact that SMEs tell us this concerns them more than access to finance is a clear indicator that they still feel over-burdened by red tape.”