The DTI has pledged to listen more to the needs of small business in drawing up legislation, after acknowledging that it has given too much weight to the needs of larger companies in the past. In an exclusive interview this week, trade secretary Stephen Byers told Accountancy Age that the DTI would now 'think small first'. He said: 'What we have to do in the UK is make sure we don't do anything that actually restricts the growth of small businesses. 'It's a real challenge for this department as we have exceptionally good links and relationships with the big companies. We don't have such a good relationship with the small business sector.' Byers added that the DTI's promotion of e-commerce and the company law review would also focus on small business. 'It's certainly something we'll spend quite a lot of time on over the next few months as we restructure the whole area of company law so it is much more sympathetic to the needs of small business,' he said. 'Surely we should have a system that is very simple and easy for the small company.' Byers is preparing a report for the prime minister that will set out how Whitehall can focus better on the needs of interest groups like small business, and remove departmental barriers that obstruct service delivery. The new Small Business Service will be among the first initiatives to reflect the change of direction. 'I hope the cross-cutting approach will deliver a far better level of support for small business and ensure if we have to introduce regulations, it is done in a way that is sensitive and sympathetic to the needs of small business,' he said. 'The SBS is going to be another example of how we can cut across initiatives within this department and involve other departments to offer a better service for small businesses.' Byers also hinted that the Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise were ready to sacrifice their preferential status in insolvencies. Profile, page 24.
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