By Daniel Hunter

Cultural differences, a lack of trust and language difficulties can present some businesses with unique regulatory barriers to growth not faced by most smaller firms.

These findings are outlined in new research from the Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO), which interviewed bosses of ‘diverse businesses’, which can include those run by people whose first language is not English, those from black and minority ethnic groups, women-only businesses or enterprises set up by recent migrants.

The research, carried out for BRDO by GHK consulting, found that these companies:

- face unique additional challenges including language barriers and lack of familiarity with regulatory requirements.

- experience significant issues relating to port regulations.

- face specific barriers, as they are concentrated in particular sectors such as services, retail, food and drink (markets with low barriers to entry for setting up in business, but which face more complex regulations).

- may deal with implied or passive differences in treatment as a result of inspectors not accounting for the cultural diversity of the business owner
often believe local regulation is a barrier to economic growth.

- look elsewhere for their information rather than going straight to regulators, signalling a lack of trust in 'authority'.

“A good regulator can support and drive growth, as long as it is sensitive to cultural and other differences, and I want to encourage that," Business Minister, Michael Fallon, said.

“We know that providing a more tailored approach works. For example, businesses with a Primary Authority relationship — where businesses have a single point of contact for advice on regulation wherever they trade — can be better equipped to deal with regulatory compliance issues than those businesses who do not have the support this type of relationship brings.”

The research found diverse businesses are becoming a significant part of the economy, particularly in the SME sector, with immigration trends suggesting this will increase during the next decade.

BRDO has identified a number of ways regulatory barriers can be broken down. Key initiatives include maximising opportunities from Local Enterprise Partnerships and Primary Authority as well as the common approach to competency for regulators and tailoring regulatory approaches and communications channels to specific needs.

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