By Daniel Hunter

Ground-breaking firms are to be freed from outdated red tape that stops their innovative ways of working under the latest Government drive to bust bureaucracy.

Speaking at the MADE entrepreneur festival in Sheffield, Business and Enterprise Minister Michael Fallon announced that there will be a new independent scrutiny of the unnecessary rules and regulations that are barriers to growth for challenger businesses. These are innovative enterprises that do not follow set ways of business working, and which might be held back by burdensome bureaucracy.

He gave an added boost to entrepreneurs by announcing that a network of 22,000 mentors is now accessible on the Mentorsme portal. Meanwhile Culture Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Maria Miller announced an extra £100,000 to help entrepreneurs, particularly women in business, find mentors.

Michael Fallon said:

“Challenger businesses create wealth and jobs — we should champion them at every opportunity. They put new products on our shelves, innovate our service industry and create new markets using the latest technology. I don’t want these pioneers falling foul of outdated regulations.

“I am now looking in more depth at the rules and regulations that are holding back our most forward-thinking entrepreneurs. That’s why in addition to the package of proposals I’m publishing today, I am also strengthening the role of the independent Regulatory Policy Committee to make sure that regulation barriers to challenger businesses’ growth are removed.”

This experimental Red Tape Challenge work uncovered a wide range of issues — not all purely regulatory, but relevant to this theme. Key proposals are to:

- Create a strengthened independent function to champion deregulation when it hinders innovative businesses. The independent Regulatory Policy Committee will be asked by Ministers to investigate where challenger businesses, seeking to enter new markets, are being unjustifiably hampered by regulations or regulators and report publically on their findings.

- Encourage a self regulating approach in the peer-to-peer finance industry by increasing membership of their finance associations and building on their consumer code of practice.

- Help knowledge-based businesses to secure finance by working with banking and accountancy experts to improve existing guidance and raise awareness of the Government schemes which can help.

- Identify ways to drive down costs in applying for, and defending, patents, including examining the operation of the US ‘small entity’ regime.

- Make it cheaper and simpler for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to challenge potential infringements of their trade marks.

- Provide a better balance to the rights of consumers and online traders by implementing a new Consumer Rights Directive to replace the existing distance selling regulations.

- Amend the Estate Agents Act (1979) to take out of its scope intermediaries such as private sale portals, which only advertise properties and provide a means for sellers and buyers to communicate with each other.

Mark Littlewood, CEO of the Institute of Economic Affairs was champion for this Red Tape Challenge theme. His report and recommendations for challenger businesses will be published today alongside the Government’s proposals. The Government will continue to look into how it can reduce regulatory barriers and encourage new, challenger business models.

As part of a continuing package of support for SMEs, Michael Fallon also announced that more businesses than ever before can get access to trained mentors with a wealth of business experience. Mentorsme is the national mentoring portal, operated by the British Bankers’ Association, and it now boasts 22,000 accessible business mentors providing coverage across the whole of the UK.

Michael Fallon said:

“Business mentors play a vital role in helping SMEs to build their knowledge base as the support comes from someone who has been there and done it before. It is great that we now have a vast network of accessible business mentors but we want to grow that number even further and give greater choice to our entrepreneurs.”

To make sure that entrepreneurs, particularly women in business, are aware that this support is available, Culture Secretary Maria Miller today announced that £100,000 will be invested to help them find the right mentor to help their business prosper. This will bring the total government investment in the mentoring programme to £1.8 million.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Women and Equalities Maria Miller said:

"Women are at the heart of our economic future. Helping them maximise their full earnings power will bring huge business benefits to Britain and help kick start growth.

“There is a huge wealth of under-utilised talent out there. Giving women the support of a mentor who can relate to the challenges they face is a great way to give these entrepreneurs the tools and confidence they need to succeed. Additionally we are pleased to announce extra investment today that will help spread the benefits of mentoring even further."

At the Festival Michael Fallon met young entrepreneurs and took part in the Intuit 100-up session, where young business people were matched up with volunteer business mentors, trained through the Get Mentoring initiative.

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