1. David Cameron spent yesterday boasting about the performance of his “Red Tape Challenge”, a government policy to reduce unnecessary legislation.
Businesses constantly complain about the cost of “red tape” – regulations that they believe get in the way of doing business, harming the economy and making companies less likely to hire extra staff.
David Cameron made tackling red tape a key priority of his government and yesterday toured the media studios to trail a speech at the Federation of Small Businesses. In it he proclaimed “3,000 rules will be dropped or change” under his government.
2. But how many rules are actually being changed? BuzzFeed went through the list of 3,095 red tape cuts to see what’s actually happening.
And it turns out that just 100 of these policies count as active regulations that will be removed by this government.
Of these 100 policies, there are 67 rules that are still in place and waiting for removal.
Just 33 have actually been scrapped.
3. Meanwhile, a further 1,042 of the items listed for removal – a third of Cameron’s total – are defunct regulations that are not actually enforced, are redundant, or have been superseded.
These are being removed to tidy up the statute book and reduce confusion. It’s the parliamentary equivalent of spring cleaning. A typical example of this is defunct legislation relating to the maintenance of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, the removal of which will have a limited effect on the success of British businesses.
4. This is the full list of the 33 regulations that have both “material benefit” and have already been scrapped by this government:
-Remove the requirement to fortify margarine.
-Revoke strict requirements on where “no smoking” signs should be placed in business premises.
-Remove two regulations governing how lost property left on public transport should be treated.
-Scrap two rules regulating when local authorities to drive on footpaths for maintenance reasons.
-Allow an unlimited number of directors at a public transport company.
-Scrap 13 health and safety regulations where many of the “working practices that it contains are covered by more recent legislation”. This will save UK businesses £90,000 a year.
-End site waste management plans for construction sites, saving UK firms £860,000 a year.
-Employers are no longer responsible for sexual harassment by third parties, such as suppliers.
-Scrap three rules affecting the Equality and Human Rights Commission. These will end its responsibility to promote good relations between different groups in society, curb its data-gathering powers, and cut its ability to mediate in discrimination cases.
-End two regulations requiring Ofsted to report on childcarers, saving UK firms £180,000 a year.
-Abolish the Railway Heritage Committee, which preserved British Rail’s history.
-Clarify the procedure on applying for a chemical weapons licence.
-Scrap three rules relating to the regulation of UK airports and airspace that have been replaced by a new parliamentary act.
-Remove a regulation governing the “appointment of an Acting Adjudicator for the Land Registry in the event of a vacancy in the office of Adjudicator.”
5. Of these already scrapped regulations, 16 are given a financial value by the government.
With UK businesses saving £1.13 million per year as a result.
Cameron also pledged simplify to around two thousand other regulations, which could have substantial benefits for businesses. But the number of abolished rules isn’t quite as dramatic as the headlines might have you believe – and it’s also harder to judge whether simplification is a success in absolute terms.