Prime Minister Addresses FSB Conference

David Cameron at the FSB press conferenceDavid Cameron today made a speech at the Federation of Small Businesses’ conference.

Key in Mr Cameron’s speech was his vocal support for small firms, saying that small businesses were the future of the British economy and that he would continue to reduce domestic business regulation, i.e. cut red tape.

Referring to the government’s Red Tape Challenge, where firms here encourage to see online and vote for their favourite regulations that they believed needed scrapping, the PM said 3,000 regulations had been identified and that 800 or so had already been scrapped.

Pointing out "a couple" of his favourite regulations for the chop, Mr Cameron used the examples that if a business wants to sell oven cleaner in the UK businesses need a "poison licence", child minders need a food licence if they are giving food to the children in their care and employees can sue their employer if a customer is rude to them.

The Prime Minister said that the current government would be the first "in modern history" to actually be reducing the burden on red tape and also stated his intent to focus not just on the domestic rules but to attempt to cut red tape from Europe too.

Mr Cameron said that the "one in, one out" rule would now become "one in, two out" and promised that then next 2,200 "pointless regulations" would now be reformed.

Red tape that will either be scrapped or improved include disposing of the paper tax disc for road transport which will see 36 million vehicles free of the system, a further 142 road regulations to be looked at, the reduction of aviation regulations, food labelling regulations and turning 100 housebuilding regulations into just 10.

Health and safety regulations will also receive the red tape reduction treatment with around one million self-employed people to be removed from the regulatory system and low risk businesses to be exempt from health and safety inspections.

In all, the regulatory reductions are expected to save £850 million a year.

Mr Cameron was bold in his delivery of the speech saying:

“The future of Britain’s economy depends on Britain’s small businesses”

He added that it was

“…those with the courage to strike out and start their own thing, who work all hours to succeed, who through love, sweat and tears make their business grow.”

However, there were concerns regarding the potential reduction of around 80,000 pages of environmental guidance, repited to save businesses £100 million a year.

Environmental group Friends of the Earth said that the "war on red tape" undermind the Government’s green credentials. Policy and Campaigns Director Craig Bennett made the following statement:

“The Government must stop making the environment a scapegoat for the economic challenges we face. Important rules that safeguard our health and environment are being lost in this ideologically-driven war on red-tape.”

Mr Bennett was scathing of the deregulation encouraging the controversial method of drilling for natural gas through "fracking" and was particularly concerned about the relaxation of rules to force developers to build environmentally-friendly homes.

“Building a strong economy and protecting the environment are two sides of the same coin – we won’t build a strong, sustainable economy if we sacrifice the long term-future of our planet for short-term financial gain.”

Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary, also spoke at the FSB conference, adding that he wanted to introduced a Small Business Administration (SBA) similar to that in the US.

By forming an SBA, Chuka Ummuna said that it would help to support small businesses by getting their voice heard at the highest level.

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