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SMEs’ pockets hit hard by cost of bureaucracy

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Small to medium businesses (SMEs) in the UK are spending more money and time than other businesses to deal with bureaucracy as they seek to comply with government regulations, according to new research.

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) found that tax regulation was one of the most expensive areas of red tape hitting SMEs hard, leaving them with a collective bill of £5.1 billion.

This was followed by employment law (£4.2 billion) and health and safety law (£3.8 billion).

A lot of SMEs were also outsourcing this work to external services because of the time and effort it demanded.

Criticism has been levelled at the government, who attempts to reduce red tape have been brought into question.

Jane Bennett, head of campaigns of the FPB, said: “Despite several government initiatives – some more effective than others – it is clear that we are heading in the wrong direction as far as reducing regulation for small business owners is concerned.”

She added that she wanted the measures to “work properly and for the voices of the UK’s business owners to be heard”.

We simply want these measures to work properly and for the voices of the UK’s business owners to be clearly heard.”

The government launched an official Red Tape Challenge website in April listing over 21,000 regulations active in the UK today.

It asked the public to tell them which ones are working and which are not.