Page last updated at 01:27 GMT, Friday, 27 March 2009

Clash over calls to cut red tape

Scissors cutting red tape
Scots businesses were concerned at the cost of regulation, it was claimed

Scotland's trade unions and business bodies have clashed over calls to cut the level of red tape for companies.

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce has put the cost of regulation to Scottish businesses at £600m over the last year.

But the STUC hit out at the "burdens barometer" research, claiming weak and ineffective regulation was to blame for the current economic crisis.

The independently-produced study put the cost to Scottish businesses of new regulation since 1998 at £4.8bn.

Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive, Liz Cameron, recognised the Scottish Government's drive to curb red tape for business.

She added: "With the economy in recession and bank lending still difficult and expensive to obtain, many businesses in Scotland are becoming extremely concerned at the cost of regulation."

Current crisis

She went on: "This latest edition of our Burdens Barometer reveals that regulation has cost Scottish businesses £600m over the last year at a time when they could least afford it, and it is now time for government at all levels to recognise that everything possible needs to be done to make it easier to do business in Scotland."

But STUC assistant secretary Stephen Boyd questioned the timing of the report, and said regulation was vital for economic development, safe workplaces and fair pay.

"Given the current economic crisis is the result of weak and ineffective regulation in the financial sector, it is a somewhat strange time for the chambers to proceed with publishing its burdens barometer," he said.

"To listen to the chambers, you would assume Scotland is over-regulated by international standards when, in fact, the opposite is true as recent experience in the financial sector testifies."

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce said the burdens barometer was compiled by the Manchester and London Business Schools, and calculated using the government figures.

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