By Marcus Leach
The Red Tape challenge website will be launched today, Thursday, by the Prime Minister and Business Secretary Vince Cable.
It will, for the first time, give the public a chance to have their say on regulations that affect their everyday lives; whether it’s to speak up for well designed rules that are there to protect or challenge badly designed or badly thought through regulations that are an unnecessary burden.
“We need to tackle regulation with vigour, both to free businesses to compete and create jobs, and give people greater freedom and personal responsibility," The Prime Minister said.
“Of course we need proper standards, for example in areas like fire safety and food safety. So where regulation is well-designed and proportionate, it should stay. But it is hard to believe that we need government regulations on issues such as ice cream van musical jingles. That’s why I want us to be the first government in modern history to leave office having reduced the overall burden of regulation, rather than increasing it.
“Our starting point is that a regulation should go or its aim achieved in a different, non-government way, unless there is a clear and good justification for government being involved. Be in no doubt: all those unnecessary rules that place ridiculous burdens on our businesses and on society — they must go, once and for all.”
The campaign is part of the Government’s growth agenda and will tackle the stock of more than 21,000 statutory instruments that are currently putting barriers in the way of businesses, volunteers and the public. The first area of national life to go under the microscope will be retail. Following this, every few weeks a new set of regulations, organised around themes, will open on the website for anyone to comment on. Once a theme has closed to the public, the Prime Minister has said in a letter to all Ministers that they will have three months to explain why a regulation is still required, or it will be scrapped.
“The retail sector is a key part of our economy and essential to driving private sector-led growth. It also has to deal with hundreds of different regulations covering everything from employment law and health and safety through to consumer protection and the sale of offensive weapons," Business Secretary Vince Cable said.
“Some of these regulations are there for good reasons, protecting employees, businesses or the public. But some, like the Indication of Prices (Beds) Order 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.
“I urge you to visit the website and take a few minutes to tell us the regulations you deal with on a daily basis. This is your chance to make sure that consumers are properly protected from unscrupulous traders or give us the evidence we need to remove the unnecessary bureaucracy that stops your business from growing.”
For each sector theme, there will also be an experienced ‘sector champion’ who will provide expert knowledge on the issues faced by those on the shop floor. The champion will act as an intermediary between the sector and Government and help to direct the web-based debates and discussions.
“The moans and groans of businesses about regulation can’t and shouldn’t be ignored. By simplifying the trading environment we can free up your time to concentrate on the things that matter to your business," Dr Kevin Hawkins, Sector champion for the Retail theme said.
“This is an opportunity for companies large and small to think hard about your business and what you would change in the regulation that plays a role in your everyday life.“
Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell has written to all Permanent Secretaries across Government to ensure that civil servants understand that this is an opportunity to find creative ways of achieving policy goals without resorting to regulation.
“This is a great opportunity for the civil service to help drive changes in the way that government delivers its policy goals — abolishing unnecessary regulations and using creative approaches to achieve the Government’s objectives in non regulatory ways," Gus O'Donnell said.
“I will be ensuring that all government departments engage with businesses and the public through this challenge, and present creative and credible options to Ministers on how they can deliver the government’s ambitious goals on deregulation, to promote enterprise and enhance personal freedom and responsibility”.