Ministers to review 22,000 business regulations in red tape assault

The Government is to review almost 22,000 business regulations as part of a drive to cut red tape and will exempt small firms from new domestic laws for three years, it was announced yesterday.

Business Secretary Vince Cable also revealed that regulations extending the right to request flexible working to parents of 17-year-olds, which was due to be introduced in April, will be repealed. Ministers have also decided not to extend the right to request time off work for training to firms employing fewer than 250 employees.

Dr Cable will tell the annual conference of the Federation of Small Businesses in Liverpool that less and better regulation was a Government priority.

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He will announce that from next month, almost 22,000 regulations will be “audited”, starting with retail and manufacturing.

“We will then ask business to look through all the regulations in their sector and tell us how we can improve the system. Each Government Department will then take those comments away and report back on the action they will take to address the issues raised.

“The presumption will be that all regulations identified as overly burdensome or unnecessary will be removed unless there is a good reason for them to stay. The final reports will come to the Reducing Regulation Committee of which I am chairman, which will decide if the action has been as robust as possible,” he will tell the conference.

Mr Cable will say the Government recognises that employers needed to concentrate on growth and job creation, adding that frequent changes to employment law was a distraction.

“Businesses tell us very often that they find constant, small changes unhelpful. We remain fully committed to extending the right to request flexible working to all employees in due course, as set out in the coalition agreement. We will consult on this extension later in the spring. We do not believe we need this intermediate step which is just another adjustment for business.

“We know there are some supporters of this right but employers – the ones who have to work with it – do not support it in the main.”