FDs reject Blair policies

The government’s pro-business credentials were dealt a blow this week as an Accountancy Age survey revealed only one in four finance directors believe its policies have benefited their businesses over the past year.

The findings come as the government prepares to publish its second corporate-style annual report on Monday.

Since 1997 the government has been keen to remodel itself as the party of business. It has passed a raft of controversial legislation ranging from self-assessment for corporation tax – requiring companies to forecast profits six months in advance – to the adoption of the European working time directive. This imposes a maximum 48-hour week – averaged over 17 weeks – and guarantees rest breaks and holidays.

Only 15% of over 270 FDs questioned backed the government’s business policy. A clear majority, 54%, said the government was making life worse.

‘I feel let down by the government,’ said Liz Ashmead of metal engineer Resource to Industry. ‘There was a lot of talk about helping small businesses which never materialised,’ she added.

Many were concerned over the impact of the European working time directive.’EU legislation regarding staff is a disaster for small businesses,’ said one disgruntled FD.

Business organisations accused the government of smothering small business with masses of red tape.

Research by the Institute of Directors released earlier this month estimated state policies have burdened business with over ?bn in compliance costs.

A spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses said ministers had allowed the Inland Revenue too much power at the expense of small and medium-sized businesses.

The government also came under fire this week from the independent Better Regulation Task Force whose research found small businesses are limiting growth to avoid government regulations. It urged the government to consider compensating small companies for excessive regulations.

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