The Association of Convenience Stores has called on the government to cut the red tape that small businesses face.

Speaking at a meeting for small businesses this week, ACS CEO James Lowman told deputy PM Nick Clegg that the government needed to do far more to reduce the regulatory burden.

"The government is setting the right agenda for tackling the burden of regulation, but it needs to go further and faster," he said. "Special dispensation applying to micro-businesses should be extended to more small firms. The culture of better regulation has to stretch to town halls as well as Whitehall, especially with more regulatory decisions being made at a local level."

At the meeting, Clegg proposed a loosening of rules around inspections and said the Environment Agency and the HSE should follow the government's lead and "liberate" small businesses from red tape. "On average, for every hour someone in a big company spends on paperwork, someone in a smaller firm spends nearly nine hours," he said. "The typical small business owner says they are spending around a day a week complying with regulation rather than bringing in new business. That is bad enough in the good times. It makes even less sense when times are tough."

Lowman also called on retailers to contact the ACS with ideas as to how the taxation system could be made less costly and bureaucratic.