'Ball is rolling' for deregulation


'Ball is rolling' for deregulation
Government departments have begun to make attempts at reducing the regulatory burden on businesses, a review by the National Audit Office (NAO) has found.

Red tape on companies is estimated to cost nearly £20 billion and is charged with inhibiting business growth.

An NAO survey revealed that 60 per cent of businesses believe the level of regulation in the UK to be an obstacle to the success of their business.

The Administrative Burdens Reduction Programme (ABRP) was introduced to reduce the cost of providing information to prove their compliance with regulations.

Under this programme departments are aiming to reduce burdens by at least 25 per cent by 2010 and 500 simplification measures have been outlined.

Today's NAO report claims the programme has provided the government with a new focus to reduce regulation but warns that the task is challenging and complex.

Departments studied by the NAO were found to be seeking to reduce administrative burdens and to tackle aspects of regulation that businesses find particularly irksome and time consuming.

Commenting on today's report, NAO head Sir John Bourn said there is "no certainty" the ABRP will "deliver its intended objectives".

"For regulatory reform to succeed, departments must understand business and measure and communicate results. So far, they have made a pragmatic start," Sir John added.

"Businesses, however, are not convinced that the programme will make a real difference to them. I will revisit this to check on progress."

Matthew Fell, head of the Confederation of British Industry's corporate affairs group, said: "The administrative burden targets are a useful tool in holding government to account on its deregulatory promises but business will judge the project a success when it delivers tangible benefits on the ground.

"We welcome the NAO recommendation that departments should work more closely with firms to identify deregulatory measures that will make a real difference and business stands ready to play its part."

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