The UK Coalition Government have today proposed a number of initiatives designed to reduce the burden of bureaucracy and red tape for business. 

Proposals from the Department for Business include the re-publicising of the Your Freedom website, a “beefing up” of the Regulatory Policy Committee’s role and the provision of greater detail on the nature of previously agreed One-in-One-Out mechanisms.

The  Your Freedom website, which I wrote about on 1st July, was a welcome opportunity for businesses to tell ministers their concerns but it remains to be seen what notice, if any, ministers will take of the hundreds of suggestions for regulatory improvement that have been posted. It doesn’t look good as a major concern for all businesses but particularly small ones is the excessive amount of employment regulation. Far from decreasing this the coalition government is pressing on with the introduction of most of the last Labour government’s employment legislation.

The One-in-One-out proposals which were announced in the coalition programme for government (which you can download here) stating that no new regulation should be introduced without another one being repealed must not fall into disrepute through the introduction of loop-holes, caveats and opportunities for departments to fiddle the numbers. The announcement that costs are to be offset against so-called “Business Benefits” opens the door for some obfuscation!

The Regulatory Policy Committee (“RPC”) which was set up under the last government and tasked with providing independent, wide-ranging, and real-time scrutiny of the effect and cost to business of proposed regulatory measures put forward by Government departments is to be given new powers. Whilst this is welcome I do wonder whether this body, which has significant Trade Union and Consumer representation in its membership, will really challenge Government figures which consistently understate the cost to business of proposed regulations.

If the Government were really committed to easing the burden on business then the RPC would be totally composed of businesses and their representatives so providing the Government with a real challenge on the cost of red tape to business.

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 Category: Political Comment

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