Business secretary Vince Cable said the red tape challenge has “backfired” because not enough retailers are responding to it.

He said at the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Symposium that the website is being targeted by lobby groups who want more regulation, and that retailers “haven’t won the argument” over reducing regulation yet.

“The challenge in some ways has slightly backfired. People who want regulation are bombarding the website so we’re getting more people clamouring for regulation.”

While the scheme was intended for business groups, it is becoming a “bit of a political tug of war” because groups representing disabled employees, for instance, are making their voices heard.

He said to retailers: “If you want to get your voice heard you have got to muck in. It gets drowned out by others if you don’t.” If a more moderate approach to regulation is to be taken, he said, the case needs to be made for it.

The government has so far identified 100 redundant regulations to be scrapped that relate to the retail sector. Another 80 are being consolidated.