Cameron pledges to cut red tape for business

BBC News 27th Jan 2014

The government has pledged to help small firms reduce energy bills to cut costs

Thousands of rules affecting business are to be scrapped or amended, David Cameron is to tell a conference of small companies.

More than 3,000 rules will be dropped or changed, he will tell the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), saving more than £850m a year.

The FSB has said that supporting the small business sector should not be a “nice-to-have” afterthought.

It said that big business could help more by paying suppliers on time.

80,000 pages cut back

The prime minister is set to tell the FSB’s policy conference that his will be the first government in modern history to leave office with fewer domestic regulations than when it entered.

He will tell small business leaders that 800 rules and regulations affecting them have been abolished or amended, and that ultimately this will extended to more than 3,000 regulations.

The changes will see 80,000 pages of environmental guidance cut back.

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The UK’s large businesses need to play their part too in supporting ambitious small businesses, for example through paying their smaller suppliers promptly”

Mike CherrryFSB policy chairman

Mr Cameron is also set to announce a series of measures designed to help small companies, including vouchers and extra tax reliefs.

Mike Cherry, the FSB’s policy chairman, said he wanted the conference to help set the agenda for a sector that is frequently portrayed as an engine for growth, skills, and economic recovery.

“The government must focus on how they can support these businesses in job creation and growth while the UK’s large businesses need to play their part too in supporting ambitious small businesses, for example through paying their smaller suppliers promptly,” he said.

Despite multiple support schemes for small firms, research suggested only limited take-up or support. The FSB has called the current system “congested and confusing”, pointing to the US as a better model.

The US Small Business Administration (SBA), part of government, has a large budget, long-term strategy, and influence at the centre of power, Mr Cherry said.

“The UK government should look at whether an institution built along the principles of the US SBA is needed – bringing together business support, export guidance, public procurement, and other small business functions into one place, providing a powerful small business voice within government.”

Growth focus

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna will say that Labour would create an SBA to support small firms in their dealings with government departments.

Karen Mills, former head of the SBA and a former member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet, will address the conference.

She said: “As governments look to the future, their plans have to be centred on growth, and the primary currency should be well-paying jobs.

“With that, any conversation focused on jobs must include small business and entrepreneurship.”

She added: “When small business has a seat at the table, we can more effectively focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, which are critical components to a strong economic game plan in today’s world.”