Video: Prime Minister David Cameron promises to cut red tape
12:23 27 January 2014
David Cameron today promised to get Government “out of the way of small business success” by scrapping unnecessary red tape.
The coalition administration will be the first government in living memory to have reduced the burden of regulation over its time in office, the Prime Minister said.
His comments came as Labour announced plans to create a US-style Small Business Administration (SBA) to work across government to boost growth.
Speaking at the Federation of Small Businesses Policy Conference in London, Mr Cameron said that many small firms had complained to him about being held back by the burden of complying with red tape. But he insisted action was being taken in both Whitehall and Brussels to reduce regulation.
“This is going to be the first government in modern history that at the end of its parliamentary term has less regulation in place than there was at the beginning,” said the PM. “We have identified 3,000 regulations we are going to scrap and we’ve already got rid of 800 of them.”
Mr Cameron listed bureaucratic rules which he said were unnecessary and need to be scrapped. “If you want to sell oven cleaner in this country, you need to have a poisons licence,” he said. “I think that’s a piece of pointless regulation that can go.
“If you are a childminder and you serve your children food, you need to have a food licence. That’s one that has to go. And of course, you can currently sue your employer if one of your customers is rude to you. Insulting though that might be, I think that’s another regulation that needs to go.”
Mr Cameron said that the drive against red tape was not only taking place in the UK, telling his business audience: “We are increasingly doing it in Europe as well. I go to European Council after European Council, where I have a reputation for being incredibly boring by going on and on at the European Commission and my colleagues about deregulation.
“It is working. We’ve now got the European Commission to have a scorecard it has to review every single year about how many regulations they have got rid of.”
Mr Cameron also said he wanted to help small businesses with banking - where he admitted that “we are still not seeing enough lending to small businesses” - tax, energy, government procurement and investment in infrastructure. And he said he wanted to “celebrate” entrepreneurs who set up their own companies.
“Small business is the lifeblood of our country,” said the PM, who visited a start-up company in Brentford, west London, ahead of his speech. “The people who decide to go it alone, to set up a business, to set out on their own, are in my view heroes and heroines.”
UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said: “It’s all well and good for the PM to talk about slashing red tape. In reality Britain’s hands are tied by EU membership.
“Since this Government came to power, more than 3,500 EU regulations have been hung round the necks of British businesses. That’s over 13 million words of additional regulation since 2010 under David Cameron as Prime Minister. Only by leaving the EU can we unlock Britain’s true economic potential.”
Meanwhile, shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said Labour’s plans for a Small Business Administration will open up government schemes to small businesses and remove blockages to business expansion.
The plans follow recommendations by former Cabinet minister Lord Adonis into making the Department for Business, Innovations and Skills the most effective international business department.
Mr Umunna told the FSB: “So Britain can grow its way out of the cost-of-living crisis and build a balanced recovery built to last, we need to do all we can to help our small businesses grow, create new jobs and meet their aspirations.
“We need government to be a better servant - and customer - of our small businesses and to make sure that entrepreneurs’ voices are heard at the top table. A UK Small Business Administration is necessary to realising this ambition.
“Based on the best examples from around the world, a UK Small Business Administration would create a step-change in the opportunities for small businesses from government procurement and improve the quality of support available, operating along a proper British Investment Bank and a network of regional banks to ensure that start-ups and established firms can access the finance they need.”