‘Red tape’ vow gets a welcome

Regulation: Babs Murphy
Regulation: Babs Murphy
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Business leaders in Lancashire have welcomed Prime Minister David Cameron’s vow to cut back on red tape affecting companies.

Mr Cameron told the Federation of Small Businesses that more than 3,000 rules will be dropped or changed, saving more than £850m a year.

They include 640 pages of cattle movement guidance, 286 pages of hedgerow regulations and 380 pages of waste management rules.

The prime minister said reducing red tape, cutting business rates, and scrapping the jobs tax from April 2015 were ways the government was supporting small businesses.

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “No business could disagree with the government’s commitment to reduce unnecessary red tape.

“Good progress has been made in removing domestic regulations, and the Prime Minister is right to lead a charge in Brussels to reduce European bureaucracy.

“However reducing regulation is as much about quality as it is about quantity. Removing hundreds or thousands of laws from the statute book will only have an effect if companies on the ground feel that the burden of needless regulation is lifting.”

She added: “Britain’s deregulation drive must also not be derailed by costly new laws affecting firms. At present, both tax changes and EU regulations are excluded from the government’s “One-in, Two-out” rule for new regulations.

“This loophole blunts the impact of the policy.

“All new regulations, from whatever source, should be scrutinised and their burden minimised as part of this system.”

Mr Cameron’s promise came as official figures showed the UK economy grew by 1.9 per cent in 2013, its strongest rate since 2007, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

But growth in gross domestic product for the fourth quarter slipped to 0.7 per cent.

Darrell Matthews, North West regional director for the EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said: “Taken together with upbeat business surveys the hiccough in the notoriously volatile construction figures should be a short term interruption in what has been a trend of positive data across all major economic segments in the previous couple of quarters.”

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