Brexit: Small firms ‘not clamouring for bonfire of EU laws’ according to BCC survey
Small firms are “not clamouring for a bonfire of regulations” from the EU after Brexit, with only four per cent of small firms understanding a bill paving the way for deregulation.
More than 70 per cent of companies surveyed by the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) did not know about the Retained EU Law Bill, and its impact on their operations, it has been revealed.
According to the government, the bill intends to ‘to make it easier to amend, repeal or replace EU law retained on the UK statute book to reduce regulatory burdens and costs on UK businesses.’
Of the 938 firms polled, 96 per cent of who are small firms with under 10 employees, just four per cent understood the law change.
When asked how much they knew of REUL and its impact, just 25 per cent knew some details while two-fifths knew zero. A staggering 30 per cent had not even heard of the bill.
Polled firms were also asked for their views on deregulation, with around half saying it was a low priority, or not one at all.
Within regulation, employment planning and the environment had higher levels of prioritisation, with 19 per cent saying workers’ regulation was high.
“Businesses did not ask for this Bill, and as our survey highlights, they are not clamouring for a bonfire of regulations for the sake of it”, said William Bain, head of trade policy at the BCC.
“They don’t want to see divergence from EU regulations which makes it more difficult, costly or impossible to export their goods and services.
“This Bill could also create divergence within both Great Britain and with Northern Ireland. For example, food and environmental legislation are devolved issues. Welsh and Scottish governments could easily decide to take a different path and bring forward their own legislation around things like the use of pesticides or food labelling.
“In these circumstances, the Office of the Internal Market for trade within the UK would need to be heavily involved.
“While removing barriers to SMEs’ growth would be welcomed, any proposals to amend or repeal thousands of pieces of retained EU law must be carefully examined and should not be rushed.”
He said the “deadline on this Bill must be pushed back to the end of 2026, to give everyone more time for the process to be consulted properly. Safeguards for businesses are also required, particularly for exporters and those trading within the UK so that additional barriers to doing business are not unwittingly created.”
“More widely, the UK Government must listen to businesses on all elements of the Bill and fully explain its rationale and the implications around which laws are expiring, being amended or repealed.
“Most importantly, businesses and Government need to focus on the pressing issues we are facing right now. With a difficult 12 months ahead, we can’t afford to take away any resources that businesses need to keep afloat over the coming year.”
The UK government has been asked for comment.