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Red Tape Challenge is removing unnecessary housing, construction and planning regulations

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

Red tape that affects house builders and landlords is cut, while the Red Tape Challenge focuses on planning administration next.

Stack of papers.

Unnecessary technical regulations that are no longer needed will be removed, Planning Minister Nick Boles announced today (31 January 2013).

The changes will have no effect on countryside or environmental protections, which will continue to be safeguarded.

Around 100 small housing and construction regulations will be removed or amended as part of the government’s Red Tape Challenge to make sensible changes to regulatory burdens.

The review looked at how red tape that affects house builders and landlords could be cut back to streamline the process of building homes and renting out properties.

Removing the regulations is just one step. Further work has been underway since Autumn 2012 to simplify the framework of building regulations and local housing standards. Changes were also made in December to the building regulations to streamline requirements.

The planning administration theme of the Red Tape Challenge was also launched today. This theme intends to make the mechanics of the planning system more efficient and accessible.

The review will not make any changes to planning policy. It will feed into the department’s wider work to help deliver a more streamlined, effective and accessible planning system, while maintaining necessary safeguards.

Planning Minister Nick Boles said:

“We’re streamlining the building system and removing and improving regulations to lift unnecessary burdens where we can, to create a smooth journey through the construction process.

“The planning administration theme will build on this and simplify the mechanics of the planning system more.”

Housing Minister Mark Prisk said:

“We’re determined to support local economic growth and get Britain building. Our comprehensive package of housing and construction measures is already helping get the industry back on its feet.

“By removing unnecessary regulations we’re making it easier to build the homes this country needs and create local construction jobs up and down the country.“

Commenting on the launch of the planning administration part of the Red Tape Challenge, Mike Kiely, one of the Sector Champions for the theme said:

“When I first went into planning, the ‘Encyclopaedia of Planning Law’ went to 4 volumes; it is now 10. This is an opportunity to thin it down.

“The Red Tape Challenge wants to get rid of what’s no longer needed, to consolidate the bits that have frankly got out of hand and to amend the stuff that could just work a bit better. We won’t get back to 4 volumes, but let’s try and thin it out as much as we can.”

The other Sector Champion for planning administration, Roger Hepher, added:

“Although we’ve lost a certain amount of red tape since 2010, there’s still plenty around. This government is giving all those interested in the planning system an unprecedented opportunity to clear the decks of unnecessary rules and regulations that remain, and to address the bits previous initiatives have missed.“

The Red Tape Challenge is one of many programmes in place to help reduce the regulatory burden on business and kick-start growth. In December 2012 we announced details of an ambitious 6-month programme of deregulation that will bring businesses annual savings of at least £45 million.

Further information

A list of the regulations being removed or amended is on the Red Tape Challenge website.

A simpler framework of building regulations and local housing standards will be consulted on in the summer. More information can be found on our policy page.

The government believes that economic growth in the UK has been held back by excessive regulation. To reduce the burden imposed on business by home-grown regulation, the government is running a Red Tape Challenge, which is systematically examining some 6,500 substantive regulations that we inherited, with the aim of scrapping or reducing as many of them as possible. The Red Tape Challenge was launched by the Prime Minister in April 2011. It gives business and the public the chance to have their say, by theme, on the regulations that affect their everyday lives. Results of Red Tape Challenge so far include:

  • a radical package of employment tribunal reforms, expected to deliver £40 million of savings a year to employers; the qualifying period for unfair dismissal has increased from 1 to 2 years
  • a portable criminal records check, which employers can view instantly online, which will be available from spring 2013
  • since October 2012, deregulation of many live music performances and scrapped regulations dictating location and design of no smoking signs
  • planned reforms to environmental regulation to save business at least £1 billion over 5 years, while keeping important protections; these include reducing burdensome bureaucracy with the 23.5 million paper ‘waste transfer notes’ currently produced in the UK each year
  • a significant reduction in the paper required to run a car, including scrapping the paper counterpart to driving licences in 2015, saving UK drivers up to £8 million
  • a commitment to get rid of unnecessary burdens in the Equality Act, in recognition that bureaucracy and prescription are not routes to equality: eg ensuring employers are no longer liable for the harassment of staff by a third party such as a customer
  • a comprehensive programme of consumer law reform, including a Consumer Bill of Rights, to scrap or improve some 12 pieces of overlapping and costly consumer legislation
  • exempting from April 2013 hundreds of thousands of low-risk businesses from health & safety inspections, as part of measures to scrap or improve 85% of health and safety regulations

The planning administration theme will look at how we could make the administrative process of the system more efficient and accessible. It is not looking at planning policy and does not effect countryside and environmental protections which continue to be safeguarded.

Around 6,500 regulations are currently expected to undergo Red Tape Challenge scrutiny. At least 3,000 of these will be scrapped or reduced. By ‘scrapped’, we mean that regulation is completely removed from the statute book. By ‘reduced’, we mean that regulations are reduced in number (eg a consolidation, making the rules simpler to find and follow) and/or in terms of the burden they impose (eg reducing who is caught by the regulation; removing domestic gold-plating of EU law; active renegotiation of EU law; simplifying requirements set by the regulation or in related guidance; or reducing the burden of inspection and enforcement arising from the regulation).

Around 1,500 of the 3,000 changes will have a measurable financial benefit for business. This does not include consolidations of regulations without any changes to the content of those regulations. The Red Tape Challenge comprises regulation of UK origin and regulation that transposes EU laws. It does not include legislation or regulations falling within the responsibilities of the devolved administrations, tax and fees legislation or national security matters.

Published 31 January 2013