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Changes to UK information laws will cause big problems for small and medium businesses. The Freedom of Information Act comes into force in January 2005, and will give people access to public sector decisions, and also information held by companies which work with such institutions.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is concerned that British business is ignorant of the changes and unprepared for the extra regulations. The FSB warns that small firms have far less resources than government bodies to ensure they are correctly following regulations.

An FSB spokesman told The Times: "If you are a business that regularly works with local authorities and local councils then you are right to be concerned about the Freedom of Information Act."

"If local authorities, with all the resources that they have, are going to struggle to cope, then how on earth are SMEs going to cope with all the new red tape?"

Although the Act gives more access to information it also includes protection for companies - they can make a reasonable charge to cover administrative costs of finding information to avoid time-wasting requests. ®

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