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Government declares ‘Freedom Day’ from red tape

October 1, 2012

The Government has announced a series of red tape cuts from today, which include freeing thousands of small firms from audit requirements, and new restrictions on “cowboy” clampers (which will no doubt prove popular).

Although the Coalition has been criticised for announcing widespread red tape cuts over the past two years, whilst only scrapping irrelevant regulations in practice, some of today’s announcements will certainly benefit small businesses.

Some of the regulatory reforms coming into force today include:

  • Live music venues are now exempt from licensing laws, which will allow live performances to up to 200 people to be exempt from needing a specific licence in most circumstances.
  • Over 100,000 small firms now have the choice over whether their accounts should be audited or not, and which set of accounting rules are best for their businesses.
  • The rules, which determine the design and location of no smoking signs in workplaces, are to be relaxed.
  • New rules have been implemented to ‘clamp down’ on unscrupulous wheel clamping firms. It is now a criminal offence to clamp a vehicle without lawful authority.
  • Changes have been made to the Money Laundering Regulations (2007) to make the rules simpler, and are expected to save the UK’s small firms around £3m each year.
  • The Patents County Court (PCC) has announced a new ‘small claims track’ to make it far easier for firms to pursue basic intellectual property (IP) disputes.
  • New auto-enrolment pension rules come into effect from today, but will be ‘staged’ according to how many employees each firm has.
  • The National Minimum Wage rises from £6.08 to £6.19 an hour from 1st October.

Earlier this month, business information provider, Croner, claimed that the Government’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ was aimed purely at getting rid of “redundant or irrelevant laws”. For example, changes to Health & Safety regulations from April 2013 appear to be merely formalising the existing regulatory framework rather than offering anything new.

You can read a full list of all today’s regulatory reforms on the BIS site here (PDF).