During the time the Labour government was in power, that administration presided over the equivalent of six new regulations each working day – about 30 a week.
By contrast, the coalition government said we would cut the burden of red tape, to help in particular the small firms which are so essential for our economic well-being.
I can report that there has been good progress in 2011. There has been a wide range of activity, from identifying regulations to scrap, to ending the routine ‘gold plating’ of EU regulations.
A ‘One In, One Out’ regime caps the cost of regulation. If a new regulation is proposed, the cost of existing regulatory costs has to be reduced by a commensurate amount.
The Red Tape Challenge identified 600 regulations to be scrapped or substantially overhauled.
There is a particular emphasis on helping businesses in sectors like retail, hospitality, food and drink. Some of these regulations, such as those on entertainment licensing, have affected local groups who wanted to put on an amateur production as part of a fundraising effort.
Overhauling the regulatory system has brought to light that there were regulations which had become redundant because the product is no longer sold, or because the market has changed – or because the regulations have become historical.
There were 98 Trading with the Enemy regulations dating back to 1939!
There is an emphasis on practical help for the very small businesses which are operating under the same rules as very large enterprises.
These include the micro-businesses who will now be exempted from certain EU accounting rules – an agreement with Brussels which will affect more than one million small businesses.
Scrapping the plans to extend training regulations will save small and medium-sized enterprises £388million each year.
This work is going to continue but 2011 showed that progress can and will be made.