A good place to do business, but too much red tape

2004

The UK gets a thumbs up as a place to do business from the nation's entrepreneurs. But less red tape and unnecessary bureaucracy would make it even better.

An in-depth survey of small business owners and managers by business finance provider, Bibby Financial Services, has found that nine out of ten entrepreneurs agree the UK has a number of key strengths as a location to grow their business.

More than half cited the stable economy as a key driver and more than four out of 10 said that the UK has a healthy entrepreneurial culture.

However, as with most things, there is a ‘but’ and the small business sector is no exception. When asked what the single most annoying thing about doing business in the UK was, more than four out of 10 (44 per cent) of owners and managers complained about the high levels of red tape and bureaucracy.

In fact, given a magic wand, the one thing more than half (55 per cent) of owners and managers would do to make the UK a better place to do business would be to immediately outlaw all unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape.

More controversially, more than one in 10 (12 per cent) of entrepreneurs said they would immediately oust Tony Blair from power. What's more, 14 per cent of owners and managers said that Labour was bad for business and that their business policies were “not good at all”

David Robertson, chief executive of Bibby Financial Services, said that while it was encouraging that entrepreneurs view the UK as a good place to do business, the fact that owners and managers are still struggling under the weight of red tape is disappointing news for the Government.

"Despite repeated attempts to make sweeping legislative changes aimed at reducing unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy, the problem appears to have got worse instead of better," he said.

"At a time of increased competition from a newly enlarged European Union, small businesses and entrepreneurs should be encouraged to focus on growing their businesses rather than holding them back by red tape.

"Small businesses form the backbone of the UK economy and owners and managers have enough to do running their firms, creating wealth and providing employment without having to worry about misguided government policies that stifle their business’ growth and hamper their plans.

And he added: "With a General Election looming next year, the Government would do well to listen to the concerns of the UK small business sector which after all, employs more than 50 per cent of the UK’s private sector workforce and represents some 12 million people."