Academic researchers and partner FSB report on investigation into the impact of pandemic-related regulations on the UK small business community.
Researchers at Newcastle University, the University of Birmingham, and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) urge the UK Government to learn lessons from the COVID pandemic in order to improve regulatory compliance. The ‘Navigating the COVID-19 Regulatory Landscape’ report shows how a lack of regulatory clarity over lockdowns added extra strain on firms’ resources, and that nearly a quarter of firms found the distinction between guidance and legal requirements to be totally unclear. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), as part of UKRI’s rapid response to COVID-19, the research involved an online survey of nearly 1000 UK small businesses companies, in addition to follow-up interviews with individual business leaders. The report’s authors are urging governments and regulators across the UK to learn multiple lessons from the research, including to:
- clearly communicate the distinction between actions that a business must take, and the steps that a business might choose to take, when changing or introducing regulatory requirements
- make effective use of intermediary bodies when communicating changes to regulation
- publish illustrative examples of compliance to help small firms understand what good practice looks like
- minimise restrictions or red tape on schemes that are designed to help businesses, like furlough.