Announcement

Government axes retail red tape

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

Vince Cable announces plans to scrap or simplify more than 160 regulations that currently apply to retailers and their customers.

The proposals are the first results from the Red Tape Challenge and will see significant changes to legislation that will make life easier for businesses and promote personal freedoms.

Comments from the public and business, along with a vigorous process of challenge within Whitehall, on the 257 regulations under consideration have led to proposals to:

  • Consolidate more than 12 pieces of overlapping consumer rights law with a single new piece of legislation.
  • Simplify regulations that retailers said were particularly burdensome, such as age verification on some restricted goods, and licensing for low-risk products such as fly spray and toilet cleaner.
  • Abolish symbolic cases of heavy-handed intervention, such as shops needing a alcohol licence to sell chocolate liqeurs.
  • Remove redundant legislation, such as the war-time Trading With The Enemy Act and its 98 linked regulations, and rules around the safety of pencils and prams will also be abolished.

Announcing the results of the Retail red tape challenge, Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“We have to roll back the number of rules and regulations that our businesses have to deal with if we are to create the right conditions for sustainable economic growth.

“We have heard these promises by successive Governments before but these first proposals from the Red Tape Challenge show that we’re serious about doing that and we are making real progress.

“But this is just the start. We still need the help of business and the public to make the rest of the Red Tape Challenge a success and free businesses to compete, create jobs and unleash a private sector-led recovery.”

The Government has decided not to change legislation covering Sunday trading and to keep in place other rules covering areas such as hallmarking of goods.

You can read a summary of the proposals, alongside an edited selection of your comments, on the Red Tape Challenge website

Ridiculous Rules

Minister for Business and Enterprise Mark Prisk said:

“We are now proposing to simplify, improve or abolish two-thirds of the retail regulations that we asked the public to comment on, cutting back the bureaucracy that our retailers face.

These moves will help reduce costs especially for small retailers by cutting down the number of forms they have to fill in and overlapping and confusing laws they have to get to grips with.”

Some of the rules which are being scrapped or simplified:

  • Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2010. These ban sales to the public of certain types of firework and age restrict sales. They include a ban on the sale of Christmas Crackers to children under 16. The Government is reducing the age that Christmas Crackers can be bought to 12 - the lowest age that EU regulations allow.
  • Imitation Dummies (Safety) Regulations 1993. These prohibit the supply of goods which could be mistaken as dummies for babies. These are being scrapped as it is duplication and consumers are already protected by the General Product Safety Regulations.
  • Indication of Prices (Beds) Order 1978. Prohibits anyone selling a bed from indicating at what price it could be resold at. this is being scrapped.
  • Pencils and Graphic Instruments (Safety) Regulations 1998. Aims to protect people from exposure to heavy metals in pencil coatings. This is being scrapped as it is duplication and consumers are already protected by the General Product Safety Regulations.
  • Licensing Act 2003. A provision of this Act requires a shop selling liqueur chocolates to have an alcohol licence. This is also scrapped.
  • Bunk Beds (Entrapment Hazards) (Safety) Regulations 1987. Aims to ensure that bunk beds do not pose a safety risk, we are scrapping this regulation as it is duplication and consumers are already protected by the General Product Safety Regulations.
  • Children’s Clothing (Hood Cords) Regulations 1976. Aim to ensure that hood cords in clothing do not pose a safety risk. We are scrapping this regulation as it is duplication and consumers are already protected by the General Product Safety Regulations.
  • Wheeled Child Conveyances (Safety) Regulations 1997. Outlines standards for prams and pushchairs. We are scrapping this regulation as it is duplication and consumers are already protected by the General Product Safety Regulations.

The Challenge

The retail theme opened on 7 April 2011 and was open until 10 May. Almost 9,000 comments were made on the website accompanied by written submissions from a variety of business groups.

The Red Tape Challenge campaign is part of the Government’s growth agenda and will tackle the stock of more than 21,000 statutory instruments, many of which are currently putting barriers in the way of businesses, volunteers and the public.