I’ve written before about the repeated promises made by UK Governments of any type to cut the burden the state imposes on small businesses.
The UK small business sector accounts for more than 80% of the country’s economic activity, across all industrial sectors, so it’s not surprising that every Government in office over the past fifteen years has pledged to help it.
Helpful-sounding pledges from Ministers have consistently included cutting out the pointless, the arcane, the intrusive and the obsolete from the long list of regulations which those who run small businesses have to endure.
Those Government promises have often been accompanied by great fanfares and worthy speeches, with suitable media coverage in specialist business publications. How has the reality compared with the undertakings given by politicians? It will come as no great shock to anyone with experience of running a business of any size to hear that the real burden imposed has actually increased in recent years.
The latest in the Government’s list of unpaid jobs it requires small business owners to do on its behalf is to implement a new system of Real Time Information for payroll systems. Now, every time I pay myself, I have to tell the government there and then, on the spot, using software I am required to buy from someone else. This new task I have no choice about is in addition to the VAT return, EU sales statistics, P11D, P35, P60, Annual return, CT600s, Registered office changes, and countless other items the state thinks my small business should complete this month.
What is the point?
Any business turning over less than £5million, or having less than ten employees should simply be relieved of any of this wasteful imposition. The workload required is entirely disproportionate to the overall benefit the state receives. Every hour wasted on state bureaucracy is an hour I cannot spend on my business.
Government encouragement of small, nimble, fast-moving businesses and support for them to grow rapidly will help everyone in the UK move out of the deep economic pit so expertly dug by some ex-bankers. Shackling small business with the state’s bookkeeping simply erodes the lifeblood from most businesses, and their owners.