Neal Stone on the Red Tape Challenge

12 Apr

The Prime Minister announced on 7 April the government’s determination “to tackle regulation with vigour both to free businesses to compete and create jobs, and give people greater freedom and personal responsibility”.  A new web site has been set up inviting the public to comment on a whole swathe of regulations including 131 sets of health and safety regulations – see http://www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/health-and-safety/major-hazard-industrie/

The public are given a series of choices including “to scrap the regulations, simplify or make better.”

The thesis underlying the government announcement  is quite simple – the burden of regulation is weighing down business. Trusting people maybe a better approach than regulation.  The clear impression is created that if the public speak out in favour of scrapping regulations the government will consider and act.  There is the danger of raising expectations of a regulatory purge which, for a whole number of reasons, will not be delivered.

The British Safety Council has called for a public debate on the future of health and safety regulation and enforcement – that debate has to be an informed one underpinned by clear evidence as to what the consequences of regulatory change will be for our performance in preventing workplace injuries and ill health occurrences.

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