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Red tape ties up the lines at Small Business Support Line

Tuesday, 10 April 2012 | By Cara Waters

The government’s Small Business Support Line spends most of its time fielding calls about government red tape according to usage figures provided by the service.


Analysis of the calls to the support line shows that government red tape is the primary concern with 37% of enquiries to the support line about registration and licences.


Other topics discussed in the calls are government initiatives, grants and assistance, starting a business, legal, accounting and taxation services followed by business planning and diagnostic services.


The support line statistics are backed up by researchers Professor Chris Evans of the University of New South Wales and Dr Philip Lignier of the University of Tasmania’s findings last month that small businesses are spending almost 500 hours a year on tax red tape.


“I think [the analysis of the support line calls] does support what we are saying in our study because there is a lot of red tape involved in starting up and registering a business,” Evans told SmartCompany.


“We were more interested in recurrent compliance costs but there is enough to indicate that these are major issues for small businesses,” says Evans.


However, the Minister for Small Business, Brendan O'Connor, told SmartCompany the government was committed to cutting red tape for small business.


“That’s why we have worked with the States and Territories to establish one single national registration process for Australian Business Numbers, which will come into effect from 28 May,” says O’Connor.


“We have also introduced the Superannuation Clearing House to cut red tape and compliance costs for small businesses as they meet their superannuation guarantee obligations.


“We established the Small Business Support Line in 2009 so that small business people could get initial, expert advice on all business-related matters, including essential registration and licensing information.


“More than 50,000 calls have been taken and 95% of callers say they are happy with the service and advice that they have received.”