Small firms still horribly unprepared for GDPR
Small companies are still lagging well behind when it comes to preparing for General Data Protection Regulation, the Federation of Small Businesses has warned.
This comes despite the new rules being implemented in late May, and despite large financial penalties for non-compliance.
Research firm the FSB suggests that one third of small businesses have made no updates to their IT infrastructure in recent months in order to ensure they meet the deadline of 25 May.
On top of that, a further 35% of firms said they had started preparations but are yet to complete work, with just 8% of firms claiming to be ready.
Preparing for GDPR comes at a time when many companies are focused on day-to-day survival as business rates have risen, operational costs have surged and consumer demand has dropped.
The majority of firms revealed they are unaware of how to ensure compliance, while the FSB estimates that the average firm has spent more than £1,000 on data protection to date.
It is claimed that GDPR compliance will add more than £500 to that total, while at least seven hours every month is needed to ensure that all regulations are met.
FSB national chairman Mike Cherry expects general data protection regulation to pose a number of challenges and hinted that a number of firms may struggle.
He warned that the changes could be ''too much to handle'' for some businesses and has asked the Information Commissioner's Office to do more to support them.
Mr Cherry added that firms who require support should have easy access to it, and that imposing tough penalties is unlikely to help the situation.
The ICO has said that the regulations are not purely about fines, but about putting the consumer first when it comes to protecting personal data.
However, a fail to comply could result in fines of up to 20 million, or 4% of annual turnover, whichever is greater.
Given that many small firms are facing tough times when the threat of insolvency is a very real one, this added pressure could see them face more difficulties.
However a range of options reviews and alternative finance options may provide appropriate solutions, although it is essential that any business acts quickly to give themselves the best chance of finding a positive outcome.
By Phil Smith