Red tape the looming worry for employers in 2005

2004

Keeping up to date with the latest Government red tape will be the biggest challenge facing Britain’s small businesses next year, a survey has predicted.

The study by financial services firm Bibby has found nearly three quarters – 71 per cent - of the 300 firms polled said this would be their biggest hurdle in the coming 12 months.

At the same point last year, just over a quarter – 28 per cent – said the same thing, suggesting that, rather than improving business conditions in the UK, the Government was leaving businesses tied up in more red tape than ever, said Bibby Financial Services.

Other key concerns included, perhaps not surprisingly, increasing sales turnover. After this the main things giving entrepreneurs sleepless nights were coping with future interest rate rises and rising fuel prices.

Recruiting skilled staff was another big area of concern. Nearly half – 44 per cent - of those polled believed a lack of the right skills-base could hamper their business’s success in the coming year.

Bibby chief executive David Roberson said: “In the 2004 Budget the Chancellor pledged he would cut 147 business regulations. However, the day-to-day reality for a significant majority of small business owners and managers appears to be that red tape is getting worse not better.

“The increases in fuel prices, coupled with interest rate rises have undoubtedly affected consumer spending and this is having a knock-on effect for business.

“2005 looks set to be a challenging year for everyone and small business owners and managers need to ensure they are in top financial shape, with a strong cash flow in order to weather any potential downturn,” he added.

In November, a similar survey by the company reported that the main concern for almost two thirds of all small business owners and managers during 2005 would be improving their cash flow management.

That survey of “New Year resolutions” was also at odds with the same poll in 2003, when 56 per cent of entrepreneurs said they intended to try to devote more time to their family life.