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NAO Business perceptions survey 2010

Over half of all businesses believe there is too much regulation, according to a survey of businesses commissioned by the National Audit Office and the Local Better Regulation Office. Although most businesses believe that the purpose of regulation is clear, over 60 per cent of businesses think that the level of regulation is an obstacle to their success.

This is the NAO’s fourth annual survey of businesses’ perceptions of regulation. The survey found that 29 per cent of businesses believe that complying with regulation has become more burdensome over the previous 12 months.  At the same time, only 1 per cent of businesses feel that regulation has become less difficult or less time consuming than previously.

A number of positive findings have emerged from the survey:

  • three in five businesses feel well-informed about the laws and regulations that affect them, with businesses feeling most informed about Health and Safety law;
  • 58 per cent of businesses find it easy to comply with regulation specific to their business sector.

Despite this, a number of issues still remain:

  • fewer than 30 per cent of businesses believe that the government understands business well enough to regulate, or consults well before any change to regulation;
  • having to keep up to date with the introduction of new regulations is seen as the most burdensome and time consuming activity, particularly regarding employment law.

“Our survey highlights areas that are still of concern for business, many of which have remained the same over the last four years. Businesses still find regulation burdensome and they are particularly concernedabout the introduction of new regulations or continuing changes to existing regulations. It therefore remains a priority for departments to manage the creation and removal of regulation properly in order to minimize the impact on business.”

Chris Shapcott, National Audit Office director of regulatory reform

Notes for Editors

  • The survey was carried out on behalf of the NAO and Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) by FDS International. Overall 2000 business responses were obtained through telephone interviews, with 1000 answering the survey for the NAO, and 1000 answering the survey for the Local Better Regulation Office specifically on the local enforcement of regulation.

  • The NAO has published the findings of previous business survey as part of three reports on the Administrative Burdens Reduction Programme: Complying with regulation: Business Perceptions Survey 2009 (HC 1028, 2008-09), The Administrative Burdens Reduction Programme 2008 (HC 944, 2007-08) and Reducing the Cost of Complying with Regulations: The Delivery of the Administrative Burdens Reduction Programme 2007 (HC 615, 2006-07). These are available at

  • Since 2005, the previous Government sought to reduce the cost to businesses of complying with the administrative activities required by regulations through the Administrative Burdens Reduction Programme. The programme had a target of reducing the annual administrative burdens imposed on private and third sectors by 25 per cent by 2010.

  • Press notices and reports are available from the date of publication on the NAO website, which is at

  • The Comptroller and Auditor General, Amyas Morse, is the head of the National Audit Office which employs some 900 staff.  He and the NAO are totally independent of Government.  He certifies the accounts of all Government departments and a wide range of other public sector bodies; and he has statutory authority to report to Parliament on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which departments and other bodies have used their resources.

PN: 42/10