Coalition has done little to cut red tape

THE coalition government has done little to cut costly red tape since it came to power, according to a report from the National Audit Office (NAO) – despite promising to slash burdensome regulation.

The report from the NAO, published today, found “ no attempt has been made to review the total number of regulations that businesses face” since David Cameron came to power.

And the government still has no plan to stop the tide of regulation that swamps firms, according to the report.

Last year, the coalition promised a “bonfire of red tape”. It said it would only introduce regulation as a last resort and bring in a “one in one out” policy that would see out-dated rules scrapped when new ones are made.

However, earlier this week the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) said new red tape – including regulations from the EU – would cost firms an extra £23bn over the next four years.

Yesterday at Prime Minister’s questions, Cameron said he wanted to see fewer regulations and praised business secretary Vince Cable for his approach to the issue.

However, Cameron’s aides privately say he is frustrated at what he sees as Cable’s lack of urgency when it comes to scrapping British rules and limiting the impact of European ones.

In the face of rising unemployment, the BCC yesterday warned the private sector would be less likely to pick up the slack following public sector job cuts if the regulatory burden continues to increase.

Alexander Ehmann, head of regulation at the Institute of Directors, said: “Today’s findings underline the immediate need for a coherent de-regulatory strategy across Whitehall.”