back to article Small biz suffocated by employment red tape

Britain's small businesses are struggling with the constant flow of employment red tape emitted by Westminster. Complex regulations are restricting companies' ability to innovate and compete and will also hit future job creation, according to the British Chambers of Commerce. UK unemployment figures are due for release …


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  1. Graham Dawson

    Try again

    Not wanting to absolve our government, who like to add to the pile whenever they get the chance, but as nearly all of the areas covered by the phrase "business regulation" are an EU competence now, most business regs are sent directly from the EU without reference to Parliament, which merely gets to write the press release and the fancy little booklet explaining how we're being screwed this time. Even when one comes down as a directive the deadline for implementation is so short that MPs usually don't get to read it properly before voting on it.

    Of course nobody in parliament wants to admit how little power they have left, so they throw their weight around making badly written and unenforceable law in the few areas where they still retain the authority to do so, whilst taking credit for everything the EU does and would do so even if it was a new directive requiring babies to be put on spikes.

    1. Blofeld's Cat

      And again

      While totally agreeing with what you say, a surprising number of "EU regulations" are either generated by UK interests within the EU bureaucracy, or come about through strange interpretations of EU directives.

      The biometric passport is a good example of this, as is the bulk of our Elven Safety legislation.

      Most new legislation gets on the statute book without proper scrutiny, often by the antiquated mechanism of "order in counsel" or the "royal prerogative". Maybe the incoming government will change that - oh look there's another one coming over.

      >Oink< >flap< >Oink< >flap<

      1. Graham Dawson
        Black Helicopters

        Well, yes...

        National politicians do like to use the EU to bypass their own legislatures when they can. The whole thing is completely undemocratic.

        Part of the problem _here_, though, is that the executive has managed to completely neuter Parliament. Apparently it goes back as far as the 1890s and something called Standing Order 14, which states that government business always takes priority in the chamber. Revoke that and the people we elect might actually have a chance to do their job.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Try again...

      ... because a lot of what we end up as law in this country comes about through "Policy Laundering" by our Government. who realise that they'd never get it through Parliament, so they push for it in Europe instead and then creatively interpret it to be even more restrictive when it comes back to our shores and "Oh, well it wasn't us, honest..."

  2. Jeff Deacon
    Thumb Down

    Well, it cancelled my expansion hopes!

    I am a one-man business at present. I thought about taking someone else on about a year ago, as there seemed to be plenty of work to support two. But then I started to look at the legislation and obligations that surrounded that move.

    It was more profitable to turn away good business.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If they could have their way

    we'd have slavery back.

  4. Blofeld's Cat

    Professional advice

    Could it be that the BCC are suggesting a requirement to get professional advice first, to cut down the number of people that CAN take action against their members?

    I was recently quoted GBP 100 to 200 per hour for a fairly straightforward legal matter, with an expectation that "at least" 25 hours would be needed.

    An enquiry at the County Court revealed that I just needed to file one form, at a total cost of GBP 225 in court fees. For an additional fee I could even have got bailiffs to serve the papers.

    The effect was startling in that my complaint, which had been ignored for months, was sorted out immediately.

    I fear we are slipping towards the USA "sue first" model over here, judging by the increasing number of firms (large and small) who now seem to ignore complaints until legal action is taken.

  5. Vision Aforethought

    Socialists don't like small business

    1. There is no socialist country that exports anything (name one, oh, ok, Vodka from Russia. Next?)

    2. Britain is lead by liberals and trashy women with a massive chip on their shoulders who are undoing all the good that Mrs. Thatcher and the HONORABLE working classes did in the 1980s.

    3. Within a few years, Britain will only possess state owned industries that produce dull low quality products, whilst Asia will boom. Talk about a reverse of poles!

    Meanwhile, the 'government' (like those in other socialist and communist nations) will live it up and install more and more CCTV and PCOs to monitor 'the people' for fear of losing their grip on power.

    Look outside.


    A hard working well meaning entrepreneur who likes to hire people who take a common sense approach to life and don't thrive off victimhood

  6. Bo Pedersen

    scary stuff indeed

    I am looking at some serious cost just to accommodate a work experience student

    I am also a one man business, looking to expand staff to grow the company, but its looking a little difficult.

    may be more of an option to take on a business partner to work alongside.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hate to break your bubble...

      ... but if anyone doesn't like small independent business, it's large capitalist businesses who have done better than ever under NuLabour...

      Socialists???!!! Would that there was a genuine socialist in the current govt...

    2. Solomon Grundy


      What about China? I heard they export quite a few things.

  7. Peter Galbavy

    David vs Goliath

    It's not in the interests of large corporations to have competition from fast moving and innovative small businesses. Since (our democratically elected, yeah right) politicos are owned by these aforementioned corporations it's very easy to draw the line between legislation that favours companies that can absorb the overheads. Perhaps one way to address this is to distinguish further in law between Ltd/Plc companies and "t/a" ones - where you have a personal liability you also get additional get-outs.

    Anecdote: A female friend of mine started her own management consulting company. Employed three women over the course of a few years who each got pregnant within a year of starting. Given the requirements, even in a small company, to offer a certain level of maternity benefits such as a job to return to etc. she almost went bust. She said that, even as a staunch feminist, she would never employ another woman of child baring age in her own company again. Irony was, of course, she then got herself pregnant too...

  8. Robert Hill

    Impossible to set up a small business in UK

    OK, not "impossible" maybe, but way, way too hard. Even incorporating and getting tax registered here is a nightmare compared to the US (where I previously set up a small firm).

    To "Vision Afterthought" above, there certainly ARE socialist countries that export things - Germany certainly leans socialist by comparison to the US (unified healthcare, fair amount of workplace regs, high taxes), but Germany exports more for it's size than most Western countries by far, and eats America's lunch in exporting autos and some electricals. For that matter, even Italy manages to export autos and electrical goods.

    The UK's malaise is a particularly British failure, and not entirely connected to being leftwards of the US - it has more to do with the loss of empire and collapsing expectations culturally than what faction governs or even how. Britain is trapped in a self-fulfilling prophecy of contraction that no one party can break - although perhaps there is _some_ hope in new points-based immigration - perhaps the UK can import a new generation of entrepreneurs and not benefits dependants. Only time will tell...

  9. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Business doesnt like small business

    Vision Afterthough - why is it business that work with government end up creating legislation that seem to be specifically designed to crush small business?

    My childrens school is paying through the nose for BB and while many small companies could compete they are not allowed to - why the legislation was written (under advice from large companies) to specifically exclude them.

    As a small farmer every effort is made by large enterprises to force me out of business.

    Why is there a problem with legislation - any idiot can write simple HTML walk throughs for any decision based system that makes the legislation transparent and easy to implement but government is encouraged away from this by its large business advisers who see every hurdle put in front of small business as a profit stream.

    Yes this government is shit - it took advice from the large companies in the lobby - most legislation is introduced on behalf of a company that can profit from it.

    And when a small business starts to thrive large companies seem to stop paying it, banks try to strangle it. I'd love to see a truly free market - the current one wont have it!

  10. Anonymous Coward


    1. There is no socialist country that exports anything (name one, oh, ok, Vodka from Russia. Next?)

    Russia is a socialist country?

    You do know the red flags all came down over a decade ago right?


    Cuba , you know , as in Cuban . what word seems to logically follow when speaking about cuban *something* , something world famous...

    2 ...all the good that Mrs. Thatcher....

    This would be the disasterous privitasation which deprived the gov of revenue or the war in the falklands that Borges described as "the fight between two bald men over a comb"?

    3. ??????? England , with its private enterprise , private transport, public-private-partnership healthcare and house of lords is , in your mind, a socialist state.

    Do you honestly believe that?

    Depending on the legislation it may indeed be "strangling red tape" or nessissary law,

    When capitalists talk of the evils of regulation , I like to remind them all that there was a time of lax regulation less than a hundred years ago and the social deprivation it created genuinly threatened their existance , by pissing on the working classes, paying wages high enough to just stave off starvation and paying no heed to the health and safety of their workers they layed the foundations for the emergence of political radicals of the left.

    Ironically the "communist" countries your moaning about (I would assume china)

    have very lax business regulations , thanks in part to milton friedmans advice rendered to the chineese "communists" ( friedman, like Thatcher was a disciple of Fredriech Hayek )

    There is a lot of legislation that exists to protect employees from exploitation ( a lot of it doesnt actually do this ) and thusly to employ anyone there are a lot of hoops to jump through.

    But the reason this stuff exists in the first place is that employeers made it nessissary.

  11. Dave The Cardboard Box

    Well they would, wouldn't they?

    Getting employers to agree to employment legislation is like getting turkeys to vote for Xmas.Try running a company with no employees and see how far that gets you.

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