National Audit Office Press Releases
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Business Perceptions Survey 2012

Fewer businesses felt that the overall level of regulation in the UK was an obstacle to their business success compared with three years ago, a survey conducted on behalf of the National Audit Office, the Better Regulation Executive and the Better Regulation Delivery Office has found.

Nevertheless, there is still work to be done in demonstrating to businesses that government understands their needs and is able to consult meaningfully with business on regulation and enforcement more widely.

The survey, the fifth commissioned by the National Audit Office, found that there was no difference between responses in 2010 and 2012 in respect of the proportion of businesses stating that there is “too much” regulation. Half of all businesses still reported that there is too much regulation – significantly higher than the first time this question was asked in 2009.

There is evidence that the regulatory burden is decreasing, with the proportion of businesses agreeing that the level of regulation in the UK is an obstacle to their businesses’ success falling from 62 per cent in 2009 to 55 per cent in 2012. Within these figures, the proportion that strongly agreed regulation is an obstacle decreased from 35 per cent to 24 per cent. However, small businesses were more likely on average to agree strongly that the overall level of regulation is an obstacle (31 per cent).

Business perception of the government’s approach to regulation, as measured by agreement levels in response to a series of statements, is less positive in 2012 than it was in 2010.

One-third (33 per cent) of businesses felt that, overall, complying with regulation had become more time consuming over the last 12 months. Small businesses (50 per cent) and medium-sized businesses (44 per cent) were more likely to report an increasing burden than were large businesses.

Chris Shapcott, Director of Regulatory Studies at the National Audit Office, said recently:

"The news that fewer businesses felt that the overall level of regulation in the UK was an obstacle is welcome. But more work needs to be done, particularly to ensure that small businesses feel the same reduction in the burden of regulation that large businesses have."

  1. Press notices and reports are available from the date of publication on the NAO website, which is at www.nao.org.uk. Hard copies can be obtained from The Stationery Office on 0845 702 3474.
  2. The National Audit Office scrutinizes public spending for Parliament and is independent of government. The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), Amyas Morse, is an Officer of the House of Commons and leads the NAO, which employs some 860 staff. The C&AG certifies the accounts of all government departments and many other public sector bodies. He has statutory authority to examine and report to Parliament on whether departments and the bodies they fund have used their resources efficiently, effectively, and with economy. Our studies evaluate the value for money of public spending, nationally and locally. Our recommendations and reports on good practice help government improve public services, and our work led to audited savings of more than £1 billion in 2011.

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