The UK’s departure from the European Union is imminent, with businesses awaiting guidance. Amid the unknowns is there anything to look forward to? Following the Great Repeal Bill, which will convert existing EU law into UK law upon our leaving the Union, experts are imploring the government to reduce the administrative burden on New and Growing Companies.
The Institute of Directors has been supporting businesses since 1903; its pro-Brexit Director General, Stephen Martin, has publically urged UK ministers to do away with EU red tape and explore trade opportunities with the rest of the world.
The National Federation of Self Employed & Small Businesses (FSB), which provides advice to small companies, also laments excessive red tape. Chairman Mike Cherry says, “Across the board with smaller businesses, it’s often not the purpose of any one specific regulation. It’s more the cumulative effect, how clearly they are written or how complicated they can be to comply with.”
VAT simplification would also greatly benefit small companies post-Brexit, according to Daniel Lyons, a partner at advisory firm Deloitte. “The Chancellor has asked the Office of Tax Simplification to look at VAT systems generally to see what could be made less complex, primarily to help SMEs,” he says.
The review includes the flat rate scheme and the annual accounting scheme.
The FSB also hopes for simpler rules surrounding temporary staff. The Working Time Directive, which sets minimum standards for working hours across the EU, has led to a disproportionate amount of administration for small companies. Businesses requiring temporary staff currently face cumbersome paperwork, discouraging many from providing opportunities for casual workers.
The EU’s Late Payment Directive – rules introduced in 2011 to curb cash-flow problems for small companies – is also proving to be a headache. Phil Foster, Managing Director of comparison site Love Energy Savings, urges NGCs to lobby for late-payment reform.
The directive requires public authorities to pay for goods and services within 30 days, and enterprises to do so within 60 unless otherwise agreed. But some corporates exploit the rules by deliberately delaying payments, or pressurising small businesses to sign up to unfair contract terms.
"In many cases these practices amount to nothing less than supply chain bullying," added Cherry.