The UK Labour government has a well earned reputation for timing announcements it knows will be unpopular to coincide with major new stories so that the bad news gets buried. Remember the infamous memo on 9/11 “[today] is a very good day to get out anything we want to bury” sent by Jo Moore, advisor to Trade & Industry Secretary Stephen Byers?

Well Mr Byers’ successor with responsibility for Trade & Industry in the renamed Department of Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR) seem to have remembered the advice as he took the chance during the G20 meeting when the press were concentrating on Police brutality (for want of a better name), to slip out an announcement which is bad news for business.

It was announced that BERR was ending its regulatory budgets scheme to consider the cost of red tape imposed on British businesses. This scheme was designed to help limit the amount of red tape stemming from government departments by forcing them to estimate the total cost to businesses of implementing new regulations. Once a limit of extra costs was reached within a time period, the government would impose no further regulatory burdens.

So why does this matter? The fact is that over the last 10 years the cost of new red tape to businesses has amounted to £77 billion – nearly £8 billion a year. At a time when businesses are struggling and looking so save costs and jobs an extra burden of £8 billion a year is not helpful, either to businesses or to the government who will need to pick up the social security costs of people who lose their jobs.

Hmm. Joined-up government? I think not, but another good example of sneaky government – a bit like Mr Brown’s so-called apology!

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 Category: Political Comment

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