Businesses and local authorities are working together to reduce burdensome regulation and time-consuming administration, a new survey has found.

The study by LBRO, which works to improve local enforcement of environmental health, trading standards and licensing, and the National Audit Office, found business believe the purpose of locally enforced regulation is clear and undersand what is expected of them in order to comply. 

LBRO says its survey also shows evidence of a growing partnership approach between business and local authorities, with the majority of the 2000 respondents agreeing that most regulation is fair and proportionate.

However, more than half of businesses feel the overall level of regulation in the UK is an obstacle to their success; with one in six businesses rating complying with regulation as their single greatest challenge.

Clive Davenport, Policy Chairman, Trade and Industry at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Small businesses create a huge proportion of the country’s wealth yet are most vulnerable to inconsistency in regulation. Firms with few employees face considerable pressure on their time and resources, and are in no position to deal with overly complex administration. Red tape is like an additional tax.”

Inconsistency of enforcement adds to the cost of regulation for business. The survey showed thirty-eight per cent of businesses are not confident that local councils would take a consistent approach to enforcement.

LBRO chairman Clive Grace said: “Locally enforced regulation such as food safety, consumer protection, fire safety, health and safety is essential but it can have a significant impact on business growth. The way local regulation is enforced is just as important as the rules, and there serious concerns about the cost to business of dealing with it.

“However, there are positive signs from this research and other studies. There is evidence of a growing partnership between business and local authorities, which is good news and shows that the commitment to better local regulation is beginning to pay off.”

Read the report here