engage magazine issue 007/\'08 - Page 15

NEWS FOCUS 15 News Businesses ‘unaware Local authorities of R&D support’ ‘could do more’ to help small businesses Decisions made by local councils can have a major effect on small firms, says the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). FSB spokesman Simon Briault, said planning decisions and parking restrictions can mean that people go to out-of-town shopping parks rather than town centres, leaving firms based in centres without business. He also said local authorities should make it easier for smaller firms to secure public sector contracts and that there are tax relief rates that some small business owners are not aware of. The Federation of Small Businesses is a campaigning pressure group which promotes the interests of small firms and the selfemployed. Businesses are unaware of potential financial support they could be receiving from the UK’s Regional Development Agencies, according to a report. The figures, from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), show that while three quarters of businesses invest in research and development, just one in three are aware of regional support for innovation. The BCC said England’s nine Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) have a £2.2bn budget available ‘on a number of priorities including “encouraging innovation” and “supporting enterprise”.’ However, it added that innovation policy remains too narrowly focused on science and academia, with some RDA activity being duplicated by the private sector, ‘creating unnecessary waste and inefficiency’. ‘Growing a business is as challenging as starting up’ Expanding and growing a business is just as challenging as starting up one, a business expert has suggested. Simon Briault, spokesperson for the Federation of Small Businesses, claims that while start-up figures suggest more new businesses are being established, the organisation is ‘concerned’ about the rate such organisations develop further. He states that ‘it is here where businesses tend to run into more difficulties’, as regulations, red tape and employment law can be challenging. A recent survey of Londonbased small businesses by the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform revealed that 72 per cent are seeking to grow in the next two to three years. Of those questioned, ten per cent said regulations were the greatest obstacle to achieving success. Red tape costs SMEs £10.2 billion The amount of regulation faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is stifling business and should be reduced, according to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). The ICAEW claims that the total cost to SMES of implementing new regulations is £10.2 billion each year in the UK alone. Red tape acts as a ‘burden’ on SMEs, which are subject to many of the same problem-creating rules as larger companies. Head of medium sector issues at the ICAEW said the European Union especially needed a ‘fresh approach’ to SME issues, ideally one that is ‘framed by a coherent set of principles’. ‘The ten tenets of SME policy devised by the ICAEW ask for any future legislation to be based on evidence; focused on incomes; simply communicated and easily applicable,’ he added. ISSUE SEVEN 2008 engage | uk