UK seen as less business friendly

Less companies view the UK as business friendly than a year ago, research finds.

Just 44 per cent of businesses think the UK is ‘business friendly’, down from 50 per cent in 2010, according to the Global Enterprise Survey by the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales (ICAEW).

The news comes as a flood of new legislation arrives, with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular feeling the brunt of regulatory burdens such as the removal of the Default Retirement Age, the national minimum wage increase and the right to request flexible working.

ICAEW chartered accountants in the UK and overseas were asked to assess the business friendliness of the regulatory and tax environment in the countries where they were based. More than half in the UK were negative (53 per cent), compared to 45 per cent in the rest of Europe. In contrast, only 9 per cent of members in the Gulf and 23 per cent in the Asia Pacific region viewed the business environment as unhelpful.

ICAEW chief executive Michael Izza says, ‘With the government’s Autumn Statement weeks away, this report presents a set of additional challenges for ministers to consider.

‘The rebalancing of the economy is also failing with service industries predicting a higher rate of growth in the year ahead than production industries.’

In other findings from the survey, businesses that export are more likely to report that turnover and profit increased over the last year, compared to those who do not, with some 63 per cent of exporters seeing growth in the last 12 months compared to only 50 per cent of those who do not export.

This is expected to continue with those exporting to other countries predicting better growth in the next 12 months. Profits, for example, are expected to grow among 63 per cent of exporters compared to only 51 per cent whose market is in the UK only.

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