Mark Prisk MP is Minister for Business and Enterprise.
As someone who’s actually run a business, I know how much unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape can stifle enterprise and innovation. Under the last Labour Government, we saw the equivalent of six new regulations every working day, totalling over 1,500 a year. So the task on entering Government was not to just focus on a few high profile measures, but to take a root and branch approach to new, existing and EU regulations.
So what's happened so far?
First we have capped the cost of new regulations coming onto the statute book. The principle we are using is 'one in, one out'. If a Minister wishes to introduce a regulation, which costs business they have to remove the equivalent cost by removing regulations elsewhere. It’s forcing all Ministers to rethink their plans and to look for alternatives to simply passing laws.
Second, we have trawled over 1,500 existing regulations, as part of the Red Tape Challenge. This is a comprehensive and thorough economic analysis, by businesses for businesses, of the no fewer than 21,000 regulations on the statute book, of which some 11,000 directly affect enterprises. Over 227,000 visitors to the website have made 28,800 comments and sent in over 950 private email submissions, suggesting which regulations should be scrapped, improved or kept.
As a result of this rigorous re-examination of our statute book, we have now agreed to scrap or substantially overhaul over half of those thus far scrutinised, or 887 separate regulations. This is the largest deregulatory package of any Government in my lifetime. Every government wants to leave its mark on the statute book. This government is doing so by tackling the regulatory burden that weighs disproportionately on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
Helping small firms
Third, to help small businesses we have exempting them from implementing the pension automatic enrolment in this Parliament, saving up to £3 billion per annum; we have scrapped training regulations planned by Labour which would have cost SMEs £390m and Chris Grayling is planning to exempt up to 1 million self employed people from disproportionate workplace regulations, originally designed for multinationals.
At the same time Caroline Spelman has agreed to overhaul existing environmental regulations which will save £1 billion over the next five years and Jonathan Djanogly and Norman Lamb are working together to reform the whole employment tribunal system, saving SMEs roughly £40m each year.
There is still a lot of work to be done, particularly in limiting the regulation coming in from Europe, which accounts for 50 per cent of the burden. We are pushing hard to reduce the volume and impact of EU regulation, not least by testing all proposed EU measures for their impact on growth and by ending the routine practice of gold-plating EU rules. We have successfully lobbied the EU to exempt micro-businesses (companies with fewer than 10 employees) from the scope of future legislation.
The Enterprise And Regulatory Reform Bill
In this Parliamentary session, we will be pushing forward with this ambitious programme. Alongside the next rounds of Red Tape Challenge, during which we will find more rules to scrap, we are introducing the Enterprise And Regulatory Reform Bill, which will be one of the most significant pieces of legislation to come before parliament during the session. This will help us reform and improve competition law, employment law, and change how regulations are enforced.
This week, there is much attention on employment matters. It is important not to lose sight of the fact that we are already implementing 17 of the 23 issues which Adrian Beecroft highlighted in his report. So in fact much of his report has proved non controversial, with the obvious exception of the issue of no fault dismissal. Labour are ready to attack this before even considering the evidence. I prefer to first look at the evidence, for and against.
Tracking our progress
A lot of people have asked how they can keep up to date with the changes. It is a complex process, involving the whole of Whitehall. So I thought it would be useful for ConservativeHome readers and others online to have a ticker they can see online which continuously shows what is being done. The Red Tape Action ticker is hosted on the Conservative Business Relations website and some MPs and others with website can download it.
As we announce more changes, the ticker will be up dated. Already, it is showing the huge variety of measures which we are scrapping, some costing millions, some just downright annoying. Please feel free to add it to your website. It’s time to get the message out there. It goes live today and I hope you find it useful.