Government denies claims it has stung business with £10bn extra red tape

Patricia Hewitt went on the offensive describing the figures, released by the British Chambers of Commerce in its Cut Red Tape campaign, as nonsense.

Hewitt, appearing on the BBC’s Working Lunch yesterday, was particularly incensed by claims made by the BCC on the running costs of the Working Time Directive and the National Minimum Wage.

She said: ‘Recent studies by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development showed that the UK has fewer administration and economic regulations on businesses than any other OECD country, including the USA.’

The BCC launched its campaign through a website where Chris Humphries, the organisation’s director general, attacked the Government and listed areas for urgent action.

‘Despite all its rhetoric, the reality is that government has dramatically increased the regulatory burdens that threaten small business competitiveness. Excessive red tape is stifling the very enterprises the government s seeking to promote,’ he said.

A learning space of four months between approval and introduction of new regulations is among the measures sought by the BCC. It also wants a probationary period for new regulations, a standard threshold for exemption from regulation, steps to ensure parliamentary review of new rules and the creation of a business-led tax simplification force.

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