Burdens barometer hits £50bn mark

A row erupted this week over the scale of the burden of red tape after the British Chambers of Commerce published analysis suggesting that the cost to employees of regulations introduced since Labour came to power now topped £50bn.

The BCC’s annual “burdens barometer”, which uses government figures to track 69 main regulations introduced since 1998, found that the cost to business of additional red tape had risen from £39bn last year to £50.3bn.

The BCC warned that the total cost of red tape was likely to pass £100bn within five years unless ministers axed existing regulations.

The government rejected the criticism, arguing that the barometer confused the burden of administering regulations with the costs of the underlying policies.

Many of the measures highlighted as having the greatest costs to business were “invaluable” benefits and protections, the Cabinet Office said.

Warnings over changes to CICS

Business groups have warned that government plans to force companies to foot the bill for criminal injuries on their premises will exacerbate the problems caused by already high employers’ insurance premiums.

The Home Office this week ended its consultation on its proposed changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation System (CICS), which include making business insurance policies pay compensation for employees who are victims of crime. Currently the CICS pays compensation to workers injured during a crime.

The Federation of Small Businesses said insurance premiums had already “rocketed”, in some cases doubling in 12 months, and the government’s proposals would only exacerbate the situation. A survey by the FSB found that 58 per cent of its members had been victims of crime in the last year.

A quarter of those asked said they already found compulsory employers’ liability insurance difficult to obtain.

The British Chambers of Commerce have also attacked the proposals.

Diagnosing stress in the workplace

EEF, the manufacturing organisation, has developed a free online stress assessment service to help business understand the effects of anxiety in their workplace and compare themselves with their peers.

Stress is the main reason for absence at work, and has a big influence on employee performance and attendance, according to EEF. Business owners can receive a “diagnosis” of their company’s stress levels by logging onto www.workorganisation.org.uk and completing an online questionnaire.

The information provided is aimed at helping employers locate where improvements are needed, highlight what is going well within the business and outline potential support available from the local EEF association.
Jonathan Moules

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