Freedom day for businesses as red tape stripped back

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The reforms are part of a wider strategy to tackle red tape, including the Red Tape Challenge, which invited the public, business and the voluntary…

The reforms are part of a wider strategy to tackle red tape, including the Red Tape Challenge, which invited the public, business and the voluntary sector to give their views on which regulations should stay, be improved, or be scrapped altogether.

Today dozens of regulations will be removed or simplified, giving businesses more freedom to grow.

Business Minister Michael Fallon said:

“From today businesses are freed from the red tape that holds them back. We are ending over-the-top bureaucracy that stifles community groups and pubs wanting to put on small events; scrapping pointless rules about no smoking signs, and saving businesses millions per year through more proportionate accounting rules.

“But this is just the start - we’ve set ourselves the challenging target of scrapping or reducing a total of 3,000 regulations. I’m determined to slim down regulation and make Britain an easier place to start and run a business.”

Today sees a number of changes to benefit business, including:

  • Giving over 100,000 more small businesses the flexibility to decide whether or not their company accounts should be audited, saving firms up to £390 million per year.

  • Greater freedom for firms to determine the most appropriate set of accounting rules for them.

  • Removing regulatory burdens and costs from hundreds of venues including pubs and clubs, making it easier to stage live music. Live unamplified music performed in any location, and live amplified music in on-licensed premises and workplaces for audiences of up to 200 people will no longer need a specific licence between 08:00 and 23:00hrs.

  • Removing legislation that dictates the precise location and design of no smoking signs in workplaces.

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association said:

“This is a very welcome change, as live music is hugely important to pubs and musicians, many of whom begin performing in their local pub.

“Ever since the two-in-a-bar rule was lost in the Licensing Act 2003, the BBPA has been pressing for change. I would urge local authorities to remove any unnecessary conditions on live music in pubs.

“We need to reduce the red tape burden, as pubs are at the heart of local communities, vital for economic recovery and creating local jobs.”

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians said:

“We all know how important live music is to both working music professionals and to those just starting out in their career. The previous regime made it increasingly difficult to put on live music gigs and saw all kinds of venues threatened with fines.

“Now, musicians will be free to earn a living and hospitals, schools and other venues including pubs will finally be able to put on live concerts without have to seek permission to do so from a council.”

In addition, targeted new measures will make life easier for individuals and businesses by restricting cowboy clampers. New police powers will protect the public from unscrupulous wheel clampers by making it a criminal offence to clamp or tow away a vehicle without lawful authority. The ban will end abuses by rogue clamping firms who prey on motorists by charging excessive release fees, displaying unclear signage and by resorting too readily to the towing away of vehicles. The ban will save motorists about £55 million each year in clamping charges.

And changes to the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 will reduce the regulatory burden imposed by the current regulations, while strengthening the UK’s overall anti-money laundering regime. The changes, which will make the regime more effective and proportionate, are expected to save firms around £3 million a year.

In further good news for small firms, lower legal costs will help entrepreneurs protect their intellectual property (IP) rights. A new small claims track has today been introduced to the Patents County Court (PCC) to make it cheaper and easier for companies to pursue basic IP disputes.

**Notes to Editors

**1. From 1 October, the largest employers will begin automatically enrolling all eligible staff into workplace pensions, who will have the option to opt out. This will help millions more people save for retirement. Recognising that small businesses are operating in tough economic times, the timetable for implementation has been extended so that no small business will be affected until June 2015 at the earliest.

  1. A full list of regulatory reform coming into effect today is at:

  2. Alongside the drive to remove superfluous regulation, Government is working to ensure that necessary regulations on business are enforced more efficiently. Focus on Enforcement reviews are being carried out across a number of sectors where aspects of the enforcement regime may be imposing unnecessary burdens on business, making inefficient use of public sector resources or hampering economic growth. The Focus on Enforcement website is at:

  3. The Government announced on 10 September that from April 2013 it intends to introduce binding new rules on both the Health & Safety Executive and on local authorities, that will exempt hundreds of thousands of businesses from burdensome, regular health & safety inspections. In future, businesses will only face health and safety inspections if they are operating in higher risk areas such as construction, or if they have an incident or a track record of poor performance.

In addition, the Government announced it will introduce legislation next month to ensure that businesses will only be held liable for civil damages in health and safety cases if they can be shown to have acted negligently. This will end the current situation where businesses can automatically be liable for damages even if they were not actually negligent.

  1. The Government is taking radical action on red tape in a further measure to boost growth and jobs in the economy. Through the Red Tape Challenge process the Government is systematically examining some 6,500 substantive regulations that it inherited. The Government is now committing to abolish or substantially reduce at least 3,000 of these regulations and it will complete the identification of the regulations to be scrapped or overhauled by December 2013. More information on the Red Tape Challenge is at

  2. On 20 September Michael Fallon also announced that a strengthened independent function to champion deregulation when it hinders innovative businesses was to be created. The independent Regulatory Policy Committee will be asked by Ministers to investigate where challenger businesses, seeking to enter new markets, are being unjustifiably hampered by regulations or regulators and report publically on their findings.

  3. The Government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries.’ It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:

  • To create the most competitive tax system in the G20

  • To make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business

  • To encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy

  • To create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

Work is underway across Government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the Government wants the economy to travel.

  1. BIS’s online newsroom contains the latest press notices and speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See for more information.

Notes to Editors

Contact Information

Name BIS Press Office Job Title

Division Department for Business, Innovation & Skills Phone




Name Oliver Fry Job Title

Division Department for Business, Innovation & Skills Phone 020 7215 5965 Fax