Government takes axe to retail red tape

Series of prohibitive rules and regulations set to be scrapped

Business secretary Vince Cable has announced 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 designed to make life easier for businesses and promote personal freedoms.

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

This includes the consolidation of more than 12 pieces of overlapping consumer rights law into single new piece of legislation and the abolishment of symbolic cases of heavy-handedness, such as shops needing a alcohol licence to sell chocolate liqueurs.

“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,” stated Cable.

“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,” he added.

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.

Mark Prisk, minister for business and enterprise, added that the government was proposing to simplify, improve or abolish more than 60% of the retail regulations that it asked the public to comment on, cutting back the bureaucracy that 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,” he said.

The Confederation of British Industry this morning welcomed news on the plans to reduce red tape for retailers.

“It is crucial that the process of repealing and streamlining regulations happens as soon as possible so that retailers can keep down costs and pass on savings to hard-pressed consumers,” said Dr Neil Bentley, CBI deputy director-general.

Some of the rules 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.

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.

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.



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