Government efforts to cut red tape for businesses have not gone far enough and many firms are still grappling with burdensome regulations, it has been claimed.

According to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO), just one per cent of businesses believe regulation has become less time consuming over the last year.

Some 40 per cent said they are spending more time dealing with red tape and carrying out form-filling tasks then they were 12 months ago.

In December 2006, the government promised to reduce the cost of complying with regulation by a quarter of the total by 2010.

The NAO report concluded that so far its efforts have had little effect and there is still a long way to go in order to meet this target.

Tim Burr, head of the NAO, told the Press Association: "Departments need to engage more directly with businesses to focus on changes that will really help and check that the action they are taking is having the intended effect."

In August, the Federation of Small Businesses urged the government to cut red tape with regards to the administration required to process staff requests for training.