Business chiefs give `bonfire of red tape’ lukewarm reception

Business leaders this week gave a lukewarm reception to new government guidelines designed to cut regulation, complaining they will amount to far less than the promised `bonfire of red-tape’.

According to both the CBI and the British Chambers of Commerce, the Cabinet Office’s latest guidelines, Good policy making: a guide to regulatory impact assessment, do not go far enough.

Among the changes are instructions to Whitehall mandarins to consider the implications of a regulation for its whole lifetime, to prepare an initial assessment before it reaches ministers and to be sure the benefits of any new regulations justify the costs of implementation.

The CBI wanted the guidelines – which are based on the recommendations of the government’s Better Regulation Task Force – to compel civil servants to calculate both the proposed regulation’s estimated cost to business as well as ensuring a reasonable timescale between its publication and enforcement.

The CBI and the BCC both said the guidelines have come too late, given that industry has been saddled with between £10bn-13bn of extra bureaucracy costs from employment legislation alone during the past two years.

A spokesman for the BCC said: `The bonfire of red tape that was promised has turned into something of a slow burner.

`Ultimately the prime minister and the government will be judged on whether the time and cost burden on business is reduced or not.’

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