In July 2013 the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills published the Better Regulation Framework Manual. This manual is intended for policy-makers, as well as economists, social researchers, lawyers and those specialising in better regulation. It contains guidance for those who are involved in developing or implementing policies that will regulate or deregulate business or civil society organisations.
This is part of a broader range of initiatives designed to improve the regulatory framework for business.
Two initiatives contained in the framework and described in the manual deserve attention.
The first is the micro-business moratorium. On 1 April 2011 the UK Government introduced a three-year freeze on new regulation for businesses with fewer than ten employees, including start-up businesses. Known as the micro-business moratorium, the freeze applies to business regulations that come into force before 31 March 2014, with some exceptions.
The micro-moratorium was introduced to provide the smallest businesses and start ups with a three year period of regulatory stability, and to protect them from the disproportionate burdens resulting from regulatory measures.
The second interesting initiative is the Red Tape Challenge. The Red Tape Challenge is a cross Government programme to review the stock of existing regulation. The default is that regulation should go unless it can be well defended.
Here’s an explanation from the Challenge website:
Good regulation is a good thing. It protects consumers, employees and the environment, it helps build a more fair society and can even save lives. But over the years, regulations – and the inspections and bureaucracy that go with them – have piled up and up. This has hurt business, doing real damage to our economy. And it’s done harm to our society too. When people are confronted by a raft of regulations whenever they try to volunteer or play a bigger part in their neighbourhood, they begin to think they shouldn’t bother.
If we want to reverse this trend and encourage greater responsibility in our society, then we have got to trust people and give them more freedom to do the right thing. So this government has set a clear aim: to leave office having reduced the overall burden of regulation. With more than 21,000 regulations active in the UK today, this won’t be an easy task – but we’re determined to cut red tape.
This website is for you to tell us which regulations are working and which are not; what should be scrapped, what should be saved and what should be simplified. Every few weeks we’re publishing the regulations affecting one specific sector or industry – from retail to hospitality to construction. And throughout the process we’re publishing the general regulations that cut across all sectors – from rules on equality to those on employment. All these regulations will be open for your comments. So if you own a shop, if you’re running a small business, if you’re a volunteer who is fed up with pointless or outdated rules – get online and tell us.
Once you’ve had your say, Ministers will have three months to work out which regulations they want to keep and why. But here’s the most important bit – the default presumption will be that burdensome regulations will go. If Ministers want to keep them, they have to make a very good case for them to stay.
As an aside, since January 2012, the European Commission has also been seeking to adapt new business laws to make them less costly for small businesses.