Comment by: JLL
Focus area: Food manufacturing (small businesses)
Regulator concerned: Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA)
Enforcement ought to match the reality in the sector, not the needs of the enforcers to keep their jobs. Otherwise the enforcers thrive by making SMEs fail.
Many small, local food producers have peaks and troughs. During busy periods their natural instinct would be to go to a small, local agent and ask them to send down a couple of unemployed local lads to help out for a few weeks. …No chance. GLA prohibits it. Your agent needs a GLA licence. So your choice is either have some large, rip-off gangmaster send you a destitute Eastern European who speaks no English and whose pay goes mostly to the gangmaster …or make do without extra staff during the peak period and reject some lucrative orders because you can’t meet them.
Can’t your local agent get a GLA licence though? He could. But it would cost him a fortune and take months, by which time your busy period is probably over.
It takes new businesses months to get a GLA licence. Months in which they are prohibited from trading or earning any income to offset their expenditure. For years the GLA has been saying it will scrap application inspections. It hasn’t. On the contrary new businesses now get two inspections at the beginning: one when they apply for a GLA licence and another one when they start operating.
GLA stats look like these twin start-up inspections account for the majority of its work which averages out at about one inspection per month per GLA official. Without these double-whammies for new businesses the GLA would probably have to let some officials go because there would be no work for them.
Still. It’s not fair to stop honest businesses from trading for months to create jobs for the boys at the GLA. Nor is it fair that a GLA licence should cost £2000 upfront, paid before you start trading, in order to pay for the cost of all that bureaucracy and the wages of all these officials doing superfluous work.
If there isn’t enforcement to be done … don’t do any enforcement… don’t employ people to do the enforcement… and don’t hold up or charge new SME’s for the sake of superfluous bureaucracy.