JOIN OUR BIG DEBATE: Are we Brits tied up in too much Red Tape?

EU red tape

EU red tape - Credit: EU Commission

Safety regulations may have caused the closure of Upton community centre in east London without warning, throwing staff out of work just before Christmas. It followed an inspection which found parts of the heating system no longer complied with regulations. Critics say there’s too much regulation and red tape choaking everyday life. Even the government is forced to agree. The Business Minister just last week announced his “war on red tape”. But has the government got it right? UKIP blames Brussels for our red tape and says the Government is powerless to stop it…

Business Minister Matthew Hancock and Ukip's Dan Oxley

Business Minister Matthew Hancock and Ukip's Dan Oxley - Credit: Archant

Business Minister Matthew Hancock is taking the bull by the horns and cutting through the Brussels bureaucracy by removing “pointless regulations” from our own statute books, as he explains...

Getting rid of red tape so far has saved business £10 billion over the last four years. A continued drive could deliver £20bn by 2020, by scrapping even more pointless regulations.

This includes health and safety laws that place unnecessary burdens on firms, as well as heavy duty rules around employment that hinder the creation of new jobs.

So we are enforcing a strict one-in, two-out rule. For ervery regulation coming in, two must go out. Government departments are now required to find a double cost-saving for any new regulation.


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It is a milestone. I am proud the government is the first in modern history to cut red tape and free-up business to create jobs and prosperity.

We are unashamedly pro-business and will always back those who create jobs for others.

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Now we have to take the battle against red tape abroad. The EU has committed to reduce regulations and follow our lead. We need to see action in Brussels to put jobs and growth first.

Action against pointless red tape includes pubs now allowed to have live music without applying for a license, between 8am and 11pm, scrapping the law making failure to report a grey squirrel on your land an offence, removing the requirement to return motor insurance certificates if a policy is cancelled mid-term, child minders who feed children in their care no longer having to register separately as “a food business” and reforming a heavy-handed rule about what qualifies as “jam” with a sugar content of more than 60 per cent now down to 50 per cent.

We have managed 1,000 reforms so far in this Parliament, giving small businesses freedom to decide whether their accounts need to be audited annually, simplifying planning regulations and low-risk businesses such as shops and offices no longer having to undergo unnecessary, unannounced inspections.

Our effort to cut red tape is helping save time and money. But the job is not yet done to reduce red tape, both at home and in Brussels.

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But Ukip insists the government has no power to stop the Brussels bureaucracy. Dan Oxley, who missed getting onto Newham Council in east London last May, is running for Parliament in one of the Newham constituencies on a radical ticket to cut Brussels bureaucracy by quitting the EU altogether. He says...

We must brace ourselves for more political promises as May’s General Election looms—including the promise of cutting red tape.

Business Minister Matthew Hancock announced his intention of cutting red tape. This would be more credible if he or the Coalition had the power to do it, but it is difficult to see what he could do about it since most of our regulation is imposed by the unelected EU Commission.

According to Ukip’s figures, 75 per cent of our regulation comes from the EU, while a survey by the German Parliament showed 83 per cent of national regulation comes from Brussels.

It is tempting for me to mock the absurd regulations intruding into our lives—bans on types of vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, light bulbs, perfumes, herbal remedies, etc.

But instead I will consider why this bossiness should come to us from the EU, via UK politicians. Two possibilities are that the EU Commission is full of control freaks, or that it is actually just as daft as it seems. A third and compelling reason for over regulation is that it favours global companies over smaller ones. Large companies can afford regulation. A small business with just a few employees cannot.

The cost of compliance officers, legal advice, lobbyists, etc, is too great and so small businesses fail, or become even smaller, while global corporations and big government form such strong links for their mutual benefit that they become practically the same thing.

This government, or a future Labour one, may talk of better regulations—but does not have the authority to affect it. The EU Commission which creates our regulations does not need to consider their intentions or those of the powerless EU Parliament. Any changes after the General Election which result in a government with ministers from Labour, Lib Dems or Conservatives will mean more regulation, because none of them will reform the EU Commission.

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