Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation Minister Richard Bruton has announced plans to cut the costs of red tape for small businesses.

The number of businesses which do not have to hire external auditors is to be increased to the maximum level permitted under EU law.

Under current rules, companies with a turnover of less than €3.65m and a balance sheet of less than €7.3m do not under law have to hire independent external auditors to examine their accounts.

These thresholds are to be increased by just over 20% to €4.4m and €8.8m respectively.

The department estimates that 1,000 to 2,500 small and medium-sized businesses will benefit from the move every year, saving them up to €5m a year.

Mr Bruton also said the Government had approved his proposal to aim for a cut of 25% in the red tape costs imposed by Government on business by the end of next year.

He said only his department and the Central Statistics Office had even measured the costs they imposed on businesses. Eight government departments and two agencies - Revenue and CSO - have been asked to calculate the costs they impose on businesses by May next year.

Chambers Ireland and ISME welcoimed today's announcement.