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Regulation is fine; costs are the problem

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 20 Apr 2023

While some SMEs see regulation as a burden or barrier to investment, for Gigatronix it is easy to understand and manage. But rising costs present more of a challenge.

For Simon Tye, owner and manager of Gigatronix, regulation is just part of doing business.

Gigatronix makes coaxial cables, connectors and cable assemblies that are used across a huge variety of applications including telecoms, computing, video and instrumentation. These specialist products are assembled in the UK from components manufactured in Taiwan, where the company has an office. 

Tye describes its products as: “The small, insignificant but nevertheless fundamental components that operations absolutely can’t work without. They are almost completely passive products that just work with other things.”

Together with their relative passivity, it’s the behind-the-scenes nature of Gigatronix’s product set that means there is little regulatory friction associated with them. As Simon notes: “We don’t interact with the public – that’s for our customers. They have to worry about radio frequencies, signal strength, things like that.” 

Simon considers compliance with the regulations that do affect Gigatronix as a part of doing business, rather than an exercise that requires special effort or significant cost: “There’s no specific regulation that we can’t just get on with.” 

The company has a number of regulations to comply with, for example around health and safety, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment regulations (WEEE), keeping up with its ISO accreditation or staying in line with tax and employment law and import rules. This doesn’t feel like a problem to Tye: “In each case, the reason for the regulations is fairly clear and I don’t feel like we’re being hamstrung in any particular way. In fact, they are so unobtrusive I don’t even notice them. It may not be a fashionable thing to say but despite the bureaucracy, I think regulations have done a pretty good job.” 

The more pressing issue for Simon’s business is rising costs: “The cost of doing business has been inflationary for years. I feel aggrieved to be told by politicians that business shouldn’t put their prices up when one of the biggest impacts on business is the rising cost of employing people.”

Clearer communication

One of the things the government has got right, in Simon’s view, is the way regulation is communicated: “In the past, documents were written in complicated language and needed at least three reads. Now, gov.uk is easy to access and understand, and there’s no need to read an entire white paper to find the relevant information.”

His professional background also helps with this understanding: “As a chartered accountant, I’m au fait with regulations, whether it’s taxation, employment law or audit – and I know who to talk to.” More recently, Simon has been making use of his ICAEW membership – he sees the organisation as being able to act as a mouthpiece for its members in industry.

Gigatronix illustrates that not every sector or business views regulation as an unacceptable burden. As Simon concludes: “Cost – that’s an ongoing struggle. But regulation and process? We just get on with it.”

Better Regulation project

The Better Regulation project aims to help ICAEW and its members understand how the UK’s regulatory regime might be improved and to use our insights to call for change.

Member views on UK regulation

Briefing on the UK's regulatory regime

This briefing looks at what is meant by regulation, what makes good regulation and key components of the UK’s regulatory architecture.

Read briefing
What is the Better Regulation project?

This project aims to understand how the UK’s regulatory regime might be improved and to call for change where needed.

Read introduction
better regulation