By Daniel Hunter

Business Minister Michael Fallon today (Tuesday) announced good news for the growth prospects of UK companies as more common sense cuts to red tape are implemented.

The reforms coming into force today are part of the government’s drive to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business. They respond directly to issues raised by business, including through the Red Tape Challenge, which invites firms to give their views on which regulations should be removed or improved.

Major reforms to reduce burdens on employers include:

- freeing responsible employers from being held liable for workplace accidents and injuries where they have taken all reasonable steps to protect their employees, through reforms to civil liability rules for breaches of health and safety law

- simplifying the mandatory reporting of workplace injuries for businesses, while ensuring that the data collected gives an accurate picture of workplace incidents

- improving third party harassment legislation, so that employers will no longer be explicitly liable for third party harassment of staff, for example by customers or member of the public

- removing the requirement for the Health and Safety Executive to approve training and qualifications of appointed first-aid personnel

- simplifying company reporting requirements, including replacing a raft of redundant and unnecessary statutory forms with more flexible systems that are better suited to business needs

- Primary Authority extended to cover more regulations and be more accessible to small businesses

“Each successive Freedom Day is helping give hard-pressed businesses the breathing space they need to grow and create jobs. For small firms, less time spent filling in forms means more time planning the next project, winning the next contract or looking for the next young recruit," Business Minister Michael Fallon said.

“Reducing government interference is improving Britain’s international reputation as a low-regulation, pro-business nation, but more must be done. To give our firms the best chance of winning on the global stage, we will press for more cuts in red tape in Europe, as well as at home.”

Innovations targeted at specific sectors vital for growth include:

- reducing administrative costs for utility companies and highway authorities through a more flexible and efficient system for sharing information about street works and meeting regulatory requirements. This is expected to save industry around £600,000 per year

- removing unnecessary regulation on intermediary businesses involved in home buying and selling such as online sales portals. Such portals facilitate private sales by allowing the seller to advertise their property and prospective buyers and sellers to communicate with one another without using a third party

- renaming the Patents County Court (the court that deals specifically with intellectual property cases, in England and Wales) as the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court to reflect its current jurisdiction. The court will also now sit as a specialist listing within the Chancery Division of the High Court to simplify administration for small businesses

"The government is setting business free from red tape to the tune of over £212 million a year so local traders can generate the kind of enterprise that is vital to our economic growth," Local Growth Minister Mark Prisk said.

"We have already stripped back bureaucratic planning rules and tackled unpopular parking practices that reduced parking spaces and increased parking charges that hold back the high street.

"In addition we have cut taxes for small shops across the country by tripling the total amount business rate relief that is given out to £900 million."

Gary Downey, Group Marketing Director of print technology specialists Balreed Digitec Ltd said: "Simpler Health and Safety rules mean we can focus on growing our business and supporting our clients. The reduced requirements of Health and Safety legislation will enable us to become more efficient by reducing the cost and burden of compliance."

The successful Primary Authority scheme, which delivers consistent and clear enforcement of regulation, has today been expanded to enable thousands of businesses belonging to trade associations and franchises to participate.

Primary Authority has also been extended to cover additional areas of regulation, including gambling and housing law, creating a clearer framework of enforcement in which law-abiding businesses can thrive.

Chief Executive of the National Federation of Meat & Food Traders, Roger Kelsey said: “Small businesses have sparse resources to deal with the administrative burdens of regulation, and they suffer disproportionately when they experience inconsistency. The expansion of Primary Authority will mean they can share some of the same benefits that large organisations enjoy; it will help us provide consistency for our members who include around 1,000 craft butchers.”

Additional measures that will come into effect later this autumn will:

- exempt 1.5 million of the UK’s smallest firms from new EU regulations requiring the provision of detailed balance sheets and profit & loss accounts

- simplify environmental application and reporting requirements for offshore oil and gas operators saving an estimated £1.88 million.

- abolish redundant waste management regulations and making the rules clearer for business

- simplify regulations on food and drink production to make requirements clearer for industry. This includes amended rules for labelling fruit juices, benefitting companies by allowing them to compete on a stronger footing at home and internationally

The government wants to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business. In the autumn it will launch a public campaign to celebrate GREAT British business success stories. The government wants to inspire other small businesses and point them towards the support that can help them grow. It will also launch a new strategy for how the whole of government will back them. This will set out a range of measures to continue helping budding entrepreneurs and existing businesses succeed.

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