Government ministers are under pressure to eradicate the unnecessary and frequently nonsensical regulation brought in by successive governments which is strangling British businesses. Significant parliamentary time and mandarin energy has been expended to create the Regulatory Reform Act, which became law in April and makes it easier for the government to remove regulatory burdens.
Sounds great in theory – can you help to make it work? While the act isn’t quantifiable, it does require that orders remove burdens, representing a small triumph for common sense. There is also a requirement that the removal of burdens be ample to make the order desirable, yet it doesn’t define how this should be monitored and achieved. Additionally, a compulsory consultation procedure on ministers is in place: they must consult with representatives of the interests affected and report to parliament on the results.
The government has already issued consultation documents on seven proposals for orders and has listed 44 other areas where orders might be made.
We now have the means to smash the regulations labyrinth which has dazed and confused businesses for decades. The potential effect of the Regulatory Reform Act must not be exaggerated. All of the proposals won’t benefit businesses and – most importantly – there must be a risk that departments duck reform of the largest regulatory burdens, because removing them would change too many things, making new acts the only way to remove them … an endless cycle of new acts and red tape, a circuitous route to regulatory death.
Will the government and its departments take advantage of its facility to remove burdens? Only if the business community forces them to listen to reason. Be active, radical, imaginative and bold. Help the government eradicate ridiculous regulations by using the suggestions form on the Cabinet Office RIU website (www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/regulation/feedback.asp) or by writing to government departments and Jeanie Cruickshank at the Cabinet Office, pinpointing regulations which are throttling business.
Whether you are in practice or business, be fearless in your pursuit of transformation and help create positive change. The regulatory burden directly affects the profession, our clients and employees. Our voices must be heard in the battle for reform.
– Teresa Graham OBE is London head of business services at Baker Tilly.
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