The Coalition government has made much in the last couple of years of its desire to reduce the burden of excessive regulation on business.
If you feel strongly about the subject, there’s even a handy website, http://www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/home/index/ where you can register your discontent with rules and regulations which you find particularly annoying in the hope that someone in authority may eventually get around to doing something about it. But I wouldn’t hold your breath. The website is almost parodic in its description of the process to be followed to rid the country of red tape; a process which appears itself to be thoroughly tangled up in the red stuff.
Oh and by the way: There is nothing that can be done to scrap laws derived from EU Regulations which of course is where a lot of our law comes from.
No doubt the desire to ease the burden on business is genuine, but well-intentioned as initiatives like this are, they can only ever scratch the surface. Thousands of new laws are made in the UK every year (a record 3,506 new laws were introduced in the last year of the Labour government according to the legal information provider, Sweet & Maxwell) so snipping away the odd tiresome rule which imposes pointless form filling requirements will sadly make little overall difference. Moreover, subtle changes here and there to complex bits of legislation will still require the expenditure of time and effort in order to get to grips with the newly tinkered-with result.
What’s required is something much more radical. Accountants have the concept of Zero Based Budgeting – the process of starting each budget period afresh and questioning the inclusion of each proposed item of expenditure to see if it can be justified, rather than assuming the previous budget was justified with only increments to the particular items having to be questioned. Why not do the same with the law?
Take just one example. There are 1,300 sections of the Companies Act 2006. If we started again with a fresh sheet of paper, could it really not be cut in half?
Let me declare my hand: I am a fan of regulation; I think rules are necessary, but if the law is to be effective and respected, it needs to be readily understood by those to whom it applies and for that it needs to be manageable and too much of the law at present is not.