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Is red tape blitz merely getting rid of redundant regulations?

September 18, 2012

The Government’s recent promise to unleash a blitz on red tape may turn out to be somewhat less dramatic, according to a leading business information provider.

Government announces further action on red tape

Earlier this month, the Department of BIS announced that over 3,000 regulations are to be “scrapped or overhauled in a radical plan by the Government to curb red tape and boost British business growth.”

From April 2013, the Government says that hundreds of thousands of smaller firms will be exempt from a number of health & safety obligations.

The thousands of other regulations in question form part of the 6,500 identified by the ‘Red Tape Challenge’ process, and are due to be scrapped or amended by the end of 2013.

However, Croner says that the health & safety proposals will merely “formalise the HSE’s reduced inspection regime and extend that to low risk workplaces”, following a series of cutbacks in public sector funding.

A case of the emperor’s new clothes?

Stephen Thomas, a consultant with the business information group, said that “there is definitely a feeling of the emperor’s new clothes here”.

Although ministers may announce what seem to be major initiatives, Croner says that the Government is really merely getting rid of “redundant or irrelevant laws”.

“The red tape being ‘blitzed’ in this case is not core health and safety law affecting the employer’s duty of care. The main legal change is intended to lessen fear of civil litigation by the removal of automatic liability in cases where an employer has committed a breach of health and safety regulations.”

Interestingly, Thomas says that not all red tape should be identified as being the enemy of business, as the UK’s current health & safety laws are “sensible and proportionate”, and ultimately all employers have a duty of care to their employees and third parties.