Press release

Government unveils Deregulation Bill

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

The Deregulation Bill has been published, with the aim of freeing UK businesses from red tape and making life easier for ordinary Britons.

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Ken Clarke, Minister without Portfolio, and Oliver Letwin, Minister for Government Policy, today published the draft Deregulation Bill, which will free thousands of businesses from red tape and make life easier for individuals and civil society. The draft bill will now be scrutinised by a joint committee of MPs and peers, and legislation will be brought forward when parliamentary time allows.

The draft Deregulation Bill is the latest step in the government’s ongoing drive to remove unnecessary bureaucracy that costs British businesses millions, slows down public services like schools and hospitals and hinders millions of individuals in their daily lives.

Read the draft Deregulation Bill here.

The government’s Red Tape Challenge has already brought in reforms that have saved business over £212 million a year, not all of which needed legislation passed by Parliament to achieve. A significant number of further measures will be implemented by the end of 2013, including an overhaul of employment tribunals to save business around £40 million per year. Overall, ministers have already decided that over 1,900 substantive regulations will be scrapped or reduced. The Chancellor announced in the Budget that a second phase of the Red Tape Challenge will start in summer 2013.

The Deregulation Bill amends or repeals 182 different pieces of legislation, removing unnecessary burdens on three key groups.

Businesses

The Bill frees businesses from red tape by:

  • scrapping health & safety rules for self-employed workers in low risk occupations, formally exempting 800,000 people from health and safety regulation and saving business an estimated £300,000 a year
  • putting a deregulatory ‘growth duty’ on non-economic regulators, bringing the huge resource of 50 regulators with a budget of £4 billion to bear on the crucial task of promoting growth and stopping pointless red tape
  • making the system of apprenticeships more flexible and responsive to the needs of employers and the economy, as recommended by the Richard Review. The Bill will remove a lot of prescriptive detail in the current legislation and clarify the employment status of apprentices. An implementation plan for apprenticeship reform will be published in September.
  • removing employment tribunal judges’ power to issue wide recommendations to businesses brought before them

Individuals and civil society

It makes life easier for individuals and civil society, including by:

  • reducing the period for which someone has to live in their social housing to qualify for Right to Buy from 5 to 3 years, expanding their availability to a further 200,000 households
  • scrapping heavy-handed fines for people who make mistakes putting out their bins
  • deregulating the showing of ‘not-for-profit’ film in village halls and community centres, making it easier for small charities and community groups to hold film nights
  • devolving decisions on public rights of way to a local level, which will cut the time for recording a right of way by several years and save almost £20 million a year through needless bureaucracy

Public bodies

It reduces bureaucratic requirements on public bodies including:

  • removing prescriptive requirements on local authorities to consult and produce various strategies, giving them more freedom from central control
  • freeing schools from pointless paperwork and prescriptive central government requirements

The Bill also brings forward a new mechanism which would allow Parliament to identify and remove uncontroversial legislation more speedily.

The Bill joins other key deregulatory measures introduced by this government including:

  • major simplification of the registration and payment system for company charges, saving businesses more than £21 million
  • binding new rules to exempt hundreds of thousands of low risk businesses from health & safety inspections
  • the introduction of a portable Criminal Records check, which employers can view instantly online, saving the need for a new check in the majority of cases
  • overhauling no-win, no-fee legal claims
  • increasing the qualifying period for unfair dismissal to two years, saving business £4.7 million
  • introducing new incentives so that roadworks on the busiest roads are done during quieter times – saving business more than £27 million per year

Ken Clarke, Minister without Portfolio, said:

I am as strongly in favour of sensible regulation as the next man, but only where it is necessary to prevent wrongdoing and protect the public. In recent years a mountain of unnecessary legislation has been piled onto the statute book, usually introduced with the most worthy motives. This regulatory burden wastes time and money for hard-working people and ties honest businesses and public bodies in bureaucratic knots.

The Deregulation Bill is just the latest offspring of the government’s highly ambitious Red Tape Challenge, which has already identified and removed barriers to the growth of our economy to the tune of £212 million each year. There is much more to come.

Oliver Letwin, Minister for Government Policy, said:

If Britain is to succeed in the global race, we have to make sure that government does not get in the way of hard working business people. Through the Red Tape Challenge we have already been able to remove £212 million worth of burdens per year on business. Some of the key changes we have got in motion include making employment tribunals work for employers as well as employees, hugely simplifying building standards and environmental guidance and getting health and safety law into proper proportion.

Not only does this Bill bring forward the next tranche of deregulatory legislation, it also creates a new procedure which means that Parliament can identify and remove uncontroversial but burdensome regulations with much greater speed than is currently possible. My hope is that this procedure will become a regular fixture in the parliamentary calendar.

Michael Fallon, Minister for Business and Enterprise said:

Our new growth duty is an important step in changing the mind-set in Whitehall and beyond to focus relentlessly on helping honest businesses to grow. It will help bring the huge resource of more than 50 non-economic regulators with a combined budget of £4 billion to bear on the crucial task of stopping pointless red tape and promoting growth.

Published 1 July 2013