The regulation burden on West Midlands businesses has shot up by almost £1 billion in the last year.

The 2008 edition of the British Chambers of Commerce's Burdens Barometer shows that the region's red tape bill has risen in 10 years to £5.4 billion, up from £4.5 billion last year.

Overall, the cost of regulation on businesses in the UK since 1998 has jumped to £65.99 billion, up from £55.66 billion in 2007.

Charlotte Ritchie, head of policy at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: "The Government has got to get a grip. Although a couple of their reforms have made an impact, it has been very small.

"They are too few and too far between. The torrent of new regulation remains unabated and means that UK businesses are going to be hit each year with an additional £10.4 billion cost of regulation unless action is taken.

"The uncomfortable truth for government is that despite two Acts of Parliament designed to make this possible - the Regulatory Reform Act (2001) and the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act (2006) - the increase surges on."

According to the Barometer, the first Act (2001-2005) saw the Government only issue 29 Regulatory Reform Orders and since the new 2006 Act only one Legislative Reform Order has been laid before the Commons - the Local Authorities Consent Requirements.

This compares with over 300 new regulations each year.

Two burdens from the "top ten" which the British Chambers believes that Government should review are: * The Data Protection Act - according to the

Government's figures this has so far cost business more than £7 billion.

* The Flexible Working (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2002 have cost business £1.588 billion since 2002.

Ms Ritchie added: "The success of the Government's drive for better regulation must be judged on the extent to which the UK's regulatory burden has been reduced.

"On this basis the Government's record does not stand up to scrutiny."

Sally Lowe, from BCC, said: "The burdens barometer figure now stands at almost £66 billion compared to a figure of £10 billion in 2001 when it was first compiled.

"Initiatives without delivery will do nothing to help keep British businesses competitive. We desperately need an impact assessment system that will challenge the need for regulation and a parliamentary process established that provides real independent oversight."

The top ten most burdensome regulations in the 2008 Burdens Barometer, with figures for recurring annual cost and cumulative cost, are: Working Time Regulation, £1.795 billion, £16.005 billion; the Vehicle Excise Duty (Reduced Pollution) (Amendment) Regulations 2000, £1.226 billion, £9.187 billion; the Data Protection Bill (Implementing the Data Protection Directive), £667 million, £7.348 billion; Amendment to The Building and Approved Inspectors (Amendment) Regulations 2006, £1.203 billion, £2.717 billion; the Disability Discrimination (Providers of Services) (Adjustments of Premises) Regulations 2001, £189 million, £1.721 billion; the Flexible Working (Procedual Requirements) Regulations 2002, £296 million, £1.588 billion; the Public Service Vehicles (Conditions of Fitness, Equipment, Use and Certification) (Amedment) Regulations 2002, £124 million, £1.545 billion; the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumer Regulations 2002, £285 million, £1.496 billion; Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002, £13 million, £1.430 billion; and Directive 2002/15/EC on the working time of persons performing mobile and road transport activities, £423 million, £1.410 billion.

A spokesman for the Department for Business said: "The British Chambers of Commerce figures fail to take account of the savings Government has introduced, and they do not acknowledge the vital protections and benefits for people in the UK that this regulation provides.

"However, we do recognise that regulation is a key business concern.

"This is why we are driving through one of the most ambitious programmes to ease the burden of regulation on business launched by any government."