I recently conducted a survey of local businesses, ranging from small to medium-sized operations, and have been looking through the returns today. Not a single respondent thought the Government made it easy for them to invest and grow their business, which is awful. How can we expect UK plc to grow if our businesses feel it is too difficult or too risky for them to invest and expand?
I asked what regulations were the biggest burden to their business and the replies were really interesting: 17% said maternity/paternity leave; 8% said pensions; 21% said money laundering; but 43% said health & safety regulations with many adding additional comments on the same theme.
I also asked what one change would help their business most and unsurprisingly the replies ranged from a cut in corporate tax for small businesses and the reduction of fuel duty through to less red tape. Businesses, especially small ones, are often forgotten by media commentators when reporting on the "credit crunch" and the impact it is having domestically. But it is quite clear from the surveys that business is already finding it tough, and that they are tightening their belts - which sadly often means job losses - in order to prepare for some difficult times ahead. However there was one respondent who didn't ask for a change in tax or red tape. He simply said that the one change that would help his business most was for "Labour being voted out". Quite.