“Over recent months, the government’s efforts to deregulate have not gone unnoticed by the business community. There has been a significant reduction in the flow of new regulations, even if the overall number of regulations on the books remains far too high. Notably, the new changes announced around audit exemptions will be welcomed as they will save businesses up to £390m a year.
“But there is still some way to go until the benefits of regulatory reform are felt by real businesses on the ground, with many complaining that European legislation in particular is making them less competitive in global markets*. Ministers must continue to pursue deregulation, and not assume that the job is complete.”
On pensions auto-enrolment, the biggest new regulation confirmed in the SNR:
“As hard-working businesspeople battle on in an uncertain environment to grow their companies, they will soon face the significant costs associated with pensions auto-enrolment, which will affect companies of all sizes over the next few years.
“Many firms still lack detailed awareness of these fundamental changes, and may not understand the extent of the responsibilities involved. The government and The Pensions Regulator must act more decisively to communicate exactly how and when companies will be affected. Smaller firms, in particular, will need more support to minimise the time spent trying to adjust to this new regulation.
“Businesses, too, must shoulder their own responsibilities, and ensure they are prepared for auto-enrolment as the first companies will be affected from October.”
On cost recovery by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), also confirmed in the SNR:
“We are concerned that this new regime will effectively incentivise health and safety inspectors to find businesses in material breach of the regulations. Businesses tell us they worry that making money – rather than real health and safety issues – will drive inspectors’ behaviour in future. They want the focus of health and safety inspectors to remain on helping law-abiding, honest businesses, not on maximising revenue to the HSE. Ministers must ensure that this change does not damage relationships between good companies and the HSE.”