FPB calls for 'elf 'n' safety red tape bonfire

Entrepreneurs want a government review of health and safety laws to focus on slashing red tape. Good luck with that.

by Hannah Prevett
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
We all know that health and safety rules can be a royal pain in the behind. (At MT HQ we’ve already had several H&S warnings about falling conkers this autumn – no, really.) But this is the current bugbear of the nation’s entrepreneurs, if the FPB is to be believed. The business lobby group reckons that getting rid of some of the bureaucracy around health and safety laws could help reduce the £12bn spent by SMEs each year to ensure they comply with regulations. And with the spending review due in October, the Government might be keen to save a few pennies by disposing of unnecessary bureaucrats too.

According to the FPB, almost two-thirds of SMEs reckon that a government review of health and safety laws would be beneficial. (i.e. it may be the beginning of the red tape bonfire that we’ve all heard so much about). It certainly helps their cause that they seem to have the support of David Cameron. At the Tory party conference this week, the PM insisted that ‘slashing red tape’ will be central to freeing the UK’s SME ‘wealth creators’. Haven’t we heard that before somewhere?

Also, there is a stark difference between talking about doing something and actually doing it – especially when it’s a politician doing the talking. And we’re not alone in our scepticism: almost a fifth of SMEs don’t think that the proposed review will have any positive impact on reducing the burden of red tape.

But there was some good news for fledgling companies this week. Apparently, a bunch of high street banks including all the usual suspects (Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS to name a few) are on the verge of announcing a new fund for small businesses. The details at this point are a bit sketchy, but it looks like the cash will be made available to small UK businesses and the banks will invest in a private-equity type fashion, becoming shareholders in the businesses they invest in.

Sky News discovered that the banks are about to unveil the new measures to try and convince ministers that they are serious about aiding long-term recovery. It sounds like a good idea in principle, although we can’t imagine many entrepreneurs being crazy about the idea of their bank manager being sat on the board…

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