08/04/2014

By Clare Moore, Editor, Croner

The Coalition Government’s three-year campaign to cut red tape has had little or no impact on British businesses, according to new research by Croner.

Over half (52%) of those surveyed say the measures have had no impact on their business, with a further 41% admitting they are not sure what effect the campaign had. Just 7% of professionals say that it had some impact on their business.

A selection of the survey responses given are as follows: “I am not aware of one regulation that affects us that has been repealed”; “As far as I am concerned regulation and employment laws only increase”; “Everything seems as complicated as it’s always been”; “We are subject to scrutiny by four different regulators, the local authority, Care Quality Commission, Homes and Communities Agency and the Ombudsman, this number has not changed”.

The survey respondents generally adopted one of two main opinions: those that felt the cuts were not significant enough to impact on business, and those that were unaware of the changes. However, they did agree that any changes that have been made have been poorly communicated.

Richard Smith, Head of Product & Strategy at Croner, says: “The findings of the Croner survey highlight what our clients have been saying to us about the campaign. There hasn’t been the bonfire of regulations that the government promised. Many of the reductions are in areas that touch customers infrequently, or have been repackaged into consolidating legislation. That’s because much of the drive towards regulation is EU driven and therefore there is very little that the UK government can do to change those laws.

One of the few areas where people could name a change was in employment law, particularly concerning tribunals and TUPE where changes were welcomed.

Commenting on this Carol Smith, Senior Employment Consultant at Croner, says: “Since the introduction of the red tape campaign, the Government has made a number of positive employment law changes, including the introduction of tribunal fees to cut down on speculative claims. However, employers have been saying these have been a nightmare to implement because the Government have waited to the last minute to apply them, in turn creating more confusion for employers.”

Discussing the Government’s commitment to reduce the health and safety burden on business, Stephen Thomas, Safety Technical Consultant at Croner, says: “Despite all the talk of red tape cuts and thousands of pieces of legislation being removed, the key health & safety regulations remain unaffected because they are considered to be fit for purpose as identified by the Government–commissioned L√∂fstedt* report.

“While the government is strongly promoting its pro-business stance, employers who break health and safety laws are seeing an increase in fines and costs such as the Health and Safety Executive’s Fee for Intervention scheme**; therefore the deregulation headlines should not be seen as a drop in workplace health and safety standards.”