Video: PM says he is on the side of small businesses - but who will the red tape cuts really help?
18:25 27 January 2014
David Cameron has promised to get Government “out of the way of small business success” by scrapping unnecessary red tape.
Pointless red tape?
Mr Cameron listed bureaucratic rules which he said were unnecessary and need to be scrapped.
“If you want to sell oven cleaner in this country, you need to have a poisons licence,” he said. “I think that’s a piece of pointless regulation that can go.
“If you are a childminder and you serve your children food, you need to have a food licence. That’s one that has to go.
“And of course, you can currently sue your employer if one of your customers is rude to you. Insulting though that might be, I think that’s another regulation that needs to go.”
Among the 80,000 documents of environmental guidance to be significantly cut back are 286 pages of regulations on hedgerow maintenance and 380 pages on waste management.
Around 100 housebuilding standards will also be slimmed down to fewer than 10 and some requirements will be axed, including rules that impose bigger windows on new buildings to allow for a “dirt factor” instead of assuming people will clean them.
The Prime Minister said the public had been involved in the plans by suggesting measures to scrap through the Red Tape Challenge.
The coalition administration will be the first government in living memory to have reduced the burden of regulation over its time in office, the Prime Minister said.
His comments came as Labour announced plans to create a US-style Small Business Administration (SBA) to work across government to boost growth.
Speaking to a conference of the Federation of Small Businesses in London, Mr Cameron said that many small firms had complained to him about being held back by the burden of complying with red tape. But he insisted action was being taken in both Whitehall and Brussels to reduce regulation.
“This is going to be the first government in modern history that at the end of its parliamentary term has less regulation in place than there was at the beginning,” said the PM.
“We have identified 3,000 regulations we are going to scrap and we’ve already got rid of 800 of them.”
But TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s sensible to look at whether regulations are still needed or can be simplified from time to time. But this Government is going way beyond that to attack worker and consumer rights.
“Stripping self-employed workers of health and safety protection - when construction is riddled with bogus self-employment scams - will make injuries more likely.
“And removing any obligation on employers to protect their staff from sexual and racial harassment by customers sends a very clear signal whose side the Government is on.
“The real problems facing small businesses are an economy that has been slow to recover due to austerity economics and the continuing failure of banks to lend.”
UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said: “It’s all well and good for the PM to talk about slashing red tape. In reality Britain’s hands are tied by EU membership.
“Since this Government came to power, more than 3,500 EU regulations have been hung round the necks of British businesses. That’s over 13 million words of additional regulation since 2010 under David Cameron as Prime Minister. Only by leaving the EU can we unlock Britain’s true economic potential.”
Meanwhile, shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said Labour’s plans for a Small Business Administration will open up government schemes to small businesses and remove blockages to business expansion.
The plans follow recommendations by former Cabinet minister Lord Adonis into making the Department for Business, Innovations and Skills the most effective international business department.
Mr Umunna told the FSB: “So Britain can grow its way out of the cost-of-living crisis and build a balanced recovery built to last, we need to do all we can to help our small businesses grow, create new jobs and meet their aspirations.
“We need government to be a better servant - and customer - of our small businesses and to make sure that entrepreneurs’ voices are heard at the top table. A UK Small Business Administration is necessary to realising this ambition.
“Based on the best examples from around the world, a UK Small Business Administration would create a step-change in the opportunities for small businesses from government procurement and improve the quality of support available, operating along a proper British Investment Bank and a network of regional banks to ensure that start-ups and established firms can access the finance they need.”