Councils Fail To Give Businesses Online Help

Results of a special survey by Socitm Insight for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) indicates that implementation of an EU directive to make it easy for new businesses to find out about licensing, regulations and other formalities of setting up are not proving to be so straight forward.

The EU Services Directive was intended to reduce government red tape for new and existing businesses throughout Europe. For competent authorities (i.e. local authorities and others involved in regulating businesses) the Directive provided an opportunity to review and improve ways of handling online enquiries from the business sector.

However, according to Better connected for business: implementation of the EU Services Directive in the UK in 2010, of the 540 competent authorities surveyed, including 433 local authorities and 107 professional institutions and government agencies, only 26 websites (5%) were rated as very good, with another 99 (18%) considered satisfactory. 320 websites (59%) were rated as poor and at the remaining 94 websites (19%) reviewers could find no relevant information.

To take one specific question applying to all five areas sampled, the provision of online application forms, these were available in just 21% of possible cases.

Local authorities performed better overall than the other competent authorities. While 14% of local authority websites provided no information about the selected survey topics in, more than twice as many (32%) of other competent authority websites had no information

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