Dreams founder calls for Cameron to cut red tape

Entrepreneur Mike Clare, founder of Dreams Plc, the UK’s largest beds retailer, has hit out at the government for the bureaucratic burden faced by new businesses and urged opposition leader David Cameron to listen to the needs of start-up companies.

Clare, who’s started a number of new companies since selling a controlling stake in Dreams for a reported £200m in March 2008, claims he’s now witnessed first-hand the sheer weight of regulation new business owners have to contend with.

“People say 80% of new businesses fail in the first three years and most of that is dealing with the back end,” said Clare in an exclusive interview with Smarta.com.

“If you’re a florist you want to be focussed on blooms and roses not what you’ll actually spend half your time doing which is HR regulation, employment law, health and safety, tax returns – all this stuff which is nothing to do with flowers.

“You spend most of your time now dealing with bureaucracy - there’s too much.”

Clare argues a new system is needed where new and small companies are excluded from certain regulations in order for owners to focus on establishing and growing their businesses.

“There should be an amnesty on legislation for new businesses. They’d need to adhere to the critical laws obviously, but not all of them. Laws should be graded, A,B,C,D etc and new firms should only have to pay attention to the A laws.

“We don’t want anyone to be dangerous but some of it is completely unnecessary. It’s fine for big companies and laws need to be there – but they shouldn’t apply to all companies.”

Clare also called for a simplification of the tax system, claiming its complexity added to the onerous nature of company administration.

“Why do we have income tax and National Insurance? Is it jobs for the boys? Why is VAT 17.5%? Why not make it 20% and reduce income tax considerably? Why is everything so complicated? If you look at the VAT laws it’s massively complicated.

“I’m sure there’d be some winners and losers if it was simplified, but at least everyone would understand things and people would be concentrated on the front end of their business rather than worrying about the back end.”

And in a final blow to Gordon Brown and the Labour government, Clare quipped: “So David Cameron, if you’re listening, get on with it!”

A full video interview with Mike Clare, detailing the growth of Dreams and his tips for success, will be live on Smarta next week.

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