Plans by the government to reform or remove 160 regulations currently prohibiting business, and in particular retail, have been revealed today.
Business Secretary Vince Cable unveiled the proposals after a three-month public consultation called ‘The Red Tape Challenge’, and several of the changes if implemented should have a positive effect on the retail industry.
Reforms promised include changes to the rules on age restricted products, TV sales reporting, specific safety requirements on products such as bunk beds and simplification of the consumer rights laws from the existing 12 to one single piece of legislation.
A long lobbied for extension to Sunday trading hours did not make it into the deal but a move towards more personal responsibility, enabling shops to stock chocolate liqueurs without an alcohol licence and sell Christmas crackers to children, will be broadly welcomed.
Cable said: “These moves will help reduce costs especially for small retailers by cutting down the number of forms they have to fill in and overlapping and confusing laws they have to get to grips with.
“We’ve listened to what people have said about the confusing and overlapping rules with the aim to get rid of the ones we don’t need and making the ones we do simpler to understand and put into practice.”
A government website, launched in the spring, has allowed members of the public to identify pieces of existing legislation which they think unreasonably obstruct business and as a result over 250 pieces of regulation were put under scrutiny before this announcement.
Former Director General of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Dr Kevin Hawkins, who was involved in the process, said these proposals showed the government was “getting over its addiction to regulation”.
He added that now retailers had shown what can be achieved by successfully working with government, other industries should now co-operate in the same way in order to further reduce burdens on business.
Stephen Robertson, current Director General of the BRC, welcomed the new laws but said big business should not be forgotten in regulation reform and that the government should ensure no new regulations are created.
“The promise to simplify regulation in several of the areas we’ve highlighted is good news but the government must now deliver and go further,” Robertson commented.
“The Red Tape Challenge signals the right intent but more support for growth would come from a comprehensive moratorium on new regulation for the life of this Parliament for businesses of all sizes, not just the smallest.
“Surely what’s damaging for a company with ten staff can’t be justified for one with a thousand?”