Few UK Small Businesses Are Ready For GDPR, Study Shows

Only 8% of small businesses in the UK are fully prepared or the General Data Protection Regulation, according to a study by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

However, 35% are in the early stages of getting ready, and another 33% have not started.

They’re not necessarily happy about it. Of those polled, 60% say their profits are attributable to compliance with data protection rules. And 31% have been forced to stop workforce expansion, the study states.  

The FSB estimates that SMBs spend an average of seven hours per month complying with existing regulations -- for a cost of £1,075 per year. Added to that is the direct cost of compliance: £508 per year. These costs will incease under GDPR.

"The GDPR is the biggest shake-up in data protection to date and many small businesses will be concerned that the changes will be too much to handle," states Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman. "It’s clear that a large part of the small business community is still unaware of the steps that they need to take to comply and may be left playing catch-up." 

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Among the firms starting to make preparations, 52% say they will approach the Information Commissioner’s Office for advice on what to do.

"With less than 100 days until the changes come into force, the attention now shifts to the Information Commissioner's Office and whether it can effectively manage the demands of small businesses seeking advice and guidance," Cherry notes. "It is vital that smaller firms looking for this support, either by phone or the web, are able to get it easily."

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham adds that GDPR "is not about fines; it’s about putting the consumer and citizen first."

She continues that "as regulator, we do have the power to impose larger fines under the GDPR, but we have access to lots of other tools that are well-suited to the task at hand, such as guiding, advising and educating organizations, and these are just as effective."

According to the FSB, a briefing paper by Chris Rhodes shows that there are 5.7 million private businesses in the UK, and 99% of these are considered small or medium-sized businesses. These firms, which have between 0 and 249 employees, employ 60% of the UK workforce, and turnover is £1.9 trillion.

The FSB announcement did not disclose methodology. 

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