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New Regulatory Review Role Welcomed By Advocate For Small Business

The Government’s focus on lifting small business performance, including the establishment of a specialist regulatory review unit, has been welcomed by Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson.

Small Business Minister Stuart Nash has said that a specialist unit has been set up inside the Ministry of Business to scrutinise new and existing regulations to ensure they are relevant and effective and do not unnecessarily hinder small firms.

As a member of the Small Business Council, this was one of the recommendations made and Ms Watson has advocated for such a role to be set up within central Government.

"Through our engagement with small businesses, we know that small businesses can be weighed down - and can be overwhelmed by - the shifting landscape of compliance and regulation, which has a disproportionate impact on small businesses. It is positive to hear that the Government is focused on finding and minimising or removing the burdens that restrict and limit small business operations to help create a systemic shift from an environment of compliance to one of enablement.

"There is a very real need to reduce the financial and operational burdens on business and the barriers to growth for those businesses looking to expand - or barriers to productivity, for those businesses content to stay small but looking to become more time-rich.

"In Aotearoa New Zealand, 97% of businesses employ less than 20 employees and contribute over $66 billion to GDP. The small business sector is also by far the largest net creator of jobs, employing 29% of our workforce, so the value of nurturing this sector cannot be understated. We need to be doing everything we can to empower small businesses to aspire, succeed and thrive - and never more so than in the current COVID-19 environment."

Ms Watson is also supportive of recent announcements around merchant service fees and would welcome a longer-term plan to streamline access to capital - another issue that has significant impact on small business.

"It was positive to hear yesterday’s announcement of the Government’s intention to introduce new regulations to clamp down on merchant service fees charged by banks to help small businesses, particularly retailers, who face excessive costs on credit card and contactless payments.

"We would also welcome any move to make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to access capital, such as a more permanent solution to the extended small business cashflow loan scheme as part of the Government's Covid-19 response package. That this scheme has been accessed by nearly 100,000 businesses shows the support for this from the business community."

However, Ms Watson says there is concern in the business community around the impact of upcoming changes that will have an immediate impact on businesses, and in particular key sectors such as the service sector.

"The feedback we are receiving from local businesses is that there is a real concern around the accumulative effect of upcoming changes, such as around the sick leave entitlement extension and the increase of minimum wage, that will have a financial impact on small business, and really need to be reviewed and potentially amended or delayed. We look forward to continuing to advocate on behalf of the business community on this and other issues and working together with Government to support small business in Aotearoa New Zealand."

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