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Man with red tape ober his mouth

Red tape strangling small business, says survey

Government compliance processes are continuing to have a negative impact on the SMB community, with more than 80 percent of respondents in a recent survey reporting they’re struggling with bureaucratic red tape.

In the latest Commonwealth Bank Survey of Business Trends and Prospects, released by the Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI), 81.3 percent of the 300 businesses surveyed said the compliance process was impacting on their business in either a moderate or major way.

“The survey results come as no surprise to many in business,” Mark Stone, VECCI chief executive, said.

Almost half of the respondents spend one to five hours per week focusing on red tape requirements and 16.5 percent spend six to 10 hours.

“This is clearly time that could be better spent running a business rather than dealing with endless compliance requirements,” said Stone.

This excessive red tape means SMBs have had to completely alter or delay aspects of their business plans. The report found 20 percent of businesses have deferred their investment plans while 16 percent have completely changed their investment plans as a result of the compliance burden.

Recruitment plans and procedures, too, were affected. Some 21 percent of businesses have deferred any intention of recruiting and 23 percent have changed their hiring policies.

Respondents also indicated WorkCover, OH&S, consumer protection law regulations and admin requirements related to state taxes and fees, have also added greater weight to their shoulders.

Stone says the Government should work to lower the regulatory compliance costs. The report findings suggest businesses would like to see a reduction in the quantity of existing regulations (31.5 percent), better communication from regulators about how to comply with existing regulations (18.2 percent), and better communication and consultation with businesses when regulators develop new regulations (17.9 percent).