Wales

Regulation overhaul needed to help small firms, FSB Wales says

House building
Image caption Builders are among those that say regulation is holding up their work

Small firms say they are suffering from an excess of red tape as new powers for Wales result in more regulations.

"Heavy handed and inconsistent" regulation was a common complaint, a report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Wales claimed.

It calls for an overhaul of the system to allow companies to grow and create more jobs and to stop Wales falling behind better regulated countries.

The Welsh government said it had not seen the report.

Regulations cover many areas of life, including shops, hospitals, workplaces and schools.

The FSB report, which was given to BBC Radio Wales' Wales@Work programme, raises concerns that regulations can be costly, inconsistent and at times unenforceable.

The organisation is concerned that as powers have increased under devolution, more red tape has been created for businesses.

About 95% of all firms in Wales are micro-businesses which means they have fewer than 10 workers. Collectively, they employ a third of the workforce.

A previous independent report commissioned by the Welsh government found that simpler regulation would make it easier for these firms to grow.

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Media captionBen Francis of house builders Hygrove says companies should be consulted

Holding up houses

The family-run construction company Hygrove has begun work building 35 new homes near the Liberty Stadium in Swansea.

It's the start of a bigger scheme that will see almost 300 family homes built.

Ben Francis of Hygrove says it's taken seven years to get to this point.

"Ultimately we want to be able to get onto site faster, which will help us to provide houses faster and obviously be able to create more jobs locally faster."

He's calling for the Welsh government to speed up the planning process and the appeals system.

Mr Francis would also like to see ministers push regulatory bodies such as Natural Resources Wales to act more quickly in responding to proposed developments.

Writing in the report, FSB Wales chair Janet Jones said: "Where regulation and the attendant guidance is poorly drafted, it can mean businesses may have to spend more time than necessary completing paperwork."

The organisation wants to a see a minister given specific responsibility for dealing with regulations.

It also calls on the Welsh government to follow the example of countries that have successfully overhauled their regulatory system like the Netherlands, Sweden and Scotland.

The FSB is urging ministers to work more closely with businesses at an earlier stage so that any regulations can be "sanity checked" for their economic impact.

It argues that this will prevent rules being enforced differently in different areas or even by different officials.

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