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Red tape costs Scottish companies an extra £600 million

The burden of complying with regulations for Scottish companies went up by £600 million in 2008, according to estimates by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.

The overall cost of red tape added since 1998 is £4.8 billion, the organisation says.

Business groups said “everything possible” needed to be done to ease the burden during the downturn.

Throughout the UK as a whole, the cumulative cost of regulation since 1998 has reached £76.8 billion, shooting up by £10 billion over the past year, according to the SCC, which published the data in its annual ‘burdens barometer’.

According to the SCC and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), UK companies were faced with 19 new regulations in the past year, costing a total of £1.75 billion.

About a third of the measures recorded in the barometer originated from the UK government, with the remainder coming from the European Union.

Scottish Government measures had not been directly incorporated into the figures for north of the border, the SCC estimates that 70 per cent of the regulations imposed by the Scottish Parliament originate in Europe.

Liz Cameron, the SCC’s chief executive, said: “With the economy in recession and bank lending still difficult and expensive to obtain, many businesses in Scotland are becoming extremely concerned at the cost of regulation. It is now time for government at all levels to recognise that everything possible needs to be done to make it easier to do business in Scotland.”