Red tape burden hits £30bn, say Chambers

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Businesses have been forced to foot a £30bn bill for extra red tape since Labour came to power in 1997, the British Chambers of Commerce said.

The figure - a 46 per cent increase on the cost of regulation when the Conservatives were in office - has been driven by a series of European legal guidelines, including the Working Time Regulation, which alone has cost £10bn to implement, the BCC said.

David Frost, the director general of the BCC, said: "British business cannot compete with a £30bn millstone around its neck. Government must simplify the UK's regulatory framework, and properly assess both the costs and benefits of new regulations."

The BCC said the Government had introduced almost 900 regulations in the past seven years, less than one-third of which were providing benefits to businesses to offset the additional costs. But the Cabinet Office rejected the findings. A spokesperson for its regulatory impact unit said: "What they count as red tape is largely the value of the policies to recipients, such as enhanced maternity rights for women, the minimum wage for one and a half million workers and better working conditions."