It is described as one of the banes of business life: regulation compliance. The form filling and admin tasks involved in meeting the rules that govern businesses, critics say, direct vital resources away from the main task of winning new customers and developing enterprises.
So, as part of its efforts to boost the private sector, the Government has asked the business community to identify which regulations it feels should be scrapped as part of a campaign to reduce red tape. To help businesses pick out those rules that impose the greatest administrative burden, the Government has set up what it has called its red tape challenge website.
The Government insists that the website will give businesses a chance to have their say on regulations that affect them. The ambition is to reduce the stock of some 21,000 statutory rules.
The first area to go under the microscope will be the retail sector. Then every few weeks a new set of regulations, organised around different business sectors, will open on the website for comment. Once the time for comments on the rules has closed, government departments will have three months to explain why a regulation is still required or it will be scrapped.
The first five sectors will be: retail; hospitality, food and drink; road transport; fisheries, marine enterprises and inland waterways; and manufacturing. The campaign will also address six broader areas that affect all businesses. These are open throughout the whole of the campaign and include: employment law, pensions, company law, equalities, health and safety and environmental legislation.
Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, said: “Some of these regulations are there for good reasons, protecting employees, businesses or the public. But some serve no purpose at all. That’s why this campaign is different to the de-regulation drives that have gone before. The onus is now on my fellow Ministers and I to justify a regulation, rather than on you telling us to do something about it.”
The website can be found at http://www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/home/index/