A recent survey of business opinion on the extent and impacts of off-the-books work identified that this constitutes a large segment of the UK economy.
Based on telephone interviews with 7,505 small businesses, the finding was that one in seven (14 per cent) are negatively affected by off-the-books traders and nearly one in 15 (6.5 per cent) view such cash-in-hand work as having a significant or very significant negative affect on their business.
As the table overleaf shows, there were also significant regional variations in the degree to which off-the-books was seen to be prevalent, with business in peripheral rural regions (for example East Wales, the Highlands and Islands) among those claiming to be most affected.
It is also acknowledged that support and advice about how they might resolve their situation is generally not widely available at present to small businesses conducting some or all of their transactions off-the-books. The development of a bespoke 'formalisation service' is therefore viewed as necessary to bridge this gap between the wealth of business advice and support available to formal businesses and its absence for those who operate wholly or partially in the cash-in-hand economy.