Measures to encourage enterprise by simplifying the tax system and reducing the cost of implementing new regulations are at the heart of a new manifesto published yesterday by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) ahead of the forthcoming general election.

With the cost of implementing new business regulation estimated at £7 billion a year, the institute is suggesting that a powerful independent Small Business Regulation Commission should be created to scrutinise proposed regulations and recommend the repeal of outdated laws.

The institute also wants all new taxes to be subjected to rigorous regulatory impact assessments and a sustained, measurable tax simplification strategy to be put in place by the new Government.

Paul Druckman, ICAEW president, said: "Whilst the impressive economic growth of recent years has given us a base of stability on which to build, businesses are concerned about the increasing complexity of new taxes and regulations.

"These are becoming a significant burden and threaten to stifle future growth.

"What we want to see is a commitment from the new Government to reduce regulation and tax complexity, particularly for small companies, who feel the pain disproportionately.

"Complexity feeds uncertainty, and together they can act as a barrier to enterprise and growth."

In parallel with investment in skills and new technology - which the institute welcomes - the Government should put the enterprise agenda at the heart of both its education and economic policies.

Eric Anstee, ICAEW chief executive, said: "The Prime Minister has said that 'education is the best economic policy there is'. I agree with that sentiment, which is why we are proposing a step change in the relationship between businesses and universities, and for entrepreneurship to be placed at the centre of the national curriculum in secondary schools.

"There is no better way to equip young people with the skills necessary to secure a bright future for UK PLC and UK Limited than to give them practical, hands-on experience at the earliest possible stage."

Also announced were proposals to encourage business growth and improve access to finance for companies wishing to expand.

Mr Anstee also announced the launch of a dedicated Westminster website in conjunction with political publisher which will ensure the ICAEW engages more directly with decision-makers in Westminster and Whitehall.

The website - will act as a direct link between the institute and its key political stakeholders.

Mr Anstee added: "This portal will ensure our members' views continue to shape the business debate in Parliament and Government.

"We look forward to building on our successful working relationships with MPs of all parties in the coming years."