Better regulation for small practices

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Small businesses feel the burden of regulation more strongly than other businesses.

That is according to the Productivity Commission’s draft report on regulator engagement with small business. Lack of staff, time and resources, are cited as the challenges that face small businesses when understanding and fulfilling compliance obligations.

The Commission made a number of recommendations to shift the burden off small businesses, including removing ‘unnecessary complexity’ and providing different treatment for small business where this would maximise benefits to the community.

“There is scope for increased targeting of those businesses and activities which present a higher risk to communities, and for adoption of lesser compliance cost approaches for lower risk businesses, such as less frequent inspections or less onerous reporting requirements.”

It called for regulators to use industry associations to circulate information, and to tailor data requirements around the data businesses already collect, as well as better information sharing between regulators.

“The PC’s report provides a blueprint for how government can take some important steps to assist small business with one of their biggest bugbears, government regulation,” said IPA CEO Andrew Conway.

“We are not going to see, nor should we see, the end of regulation, but we can have better, targeted and more concise regulation.

“When designing new regulation, regulators must have at their forefront how will small business be able to comply? They need to consider whether new requirements are necessary or whether existing procedures can be adapted.”

The report said that a single definition of ‘small business’ would lead to inflexibility and higher costs for some businesses and the community. It suggested that policy makers and regulators are best placed to define small business for their regulatory area.

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