Hardly a week goes by without small businesses having to bear an additional compliance cost. With the working families tax credit, the minimum wage and self-assessment just the tip of the iceberg, red tape is reaching a point where it serves as more of an obstruction to getting on with the business of business than a necessary check and balance. In an exclusive interview with Accountancy Age, last week Stephen Byers pledged the DTI would 'think small arst' and seek to tackle a problem that is now at least acknowledged at the heart of government. But acknowledgement alone will not make life any easier for businesses. Already many smaller companies fear that the new Small Business Service - a cornerstone of the DTI's new approach - will prove more foe than friend. The agency will need to lift red tape quickly and conspicuously if the DTI is going to persuade anybody that it is on the side of small business. Nobody is saying all regulation should be lifted. But with small firms of accountants joining the list of complainants about the burden of too much bureaucracy this week, it is the government's responsibility to ensure that regulation is the right regulation and is as limited in scope as possible.
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