The Government has set up a website for retailers to challenge red tape, with a promise that regulation that can’t be justified will be axed. Will the scheme give retailers the boost they need?
Why are we talking about it now?
The Government says it wants to get rid of unnecessary regulation and has launched a website to tackle the issue - redtapechallenge. On the site businesses and individuals can express their opinions on certain regulations. Ministers will then have three months to justify why any regulation challenged on the website is still required, or it will be scrapped. The Government says the plan is part of its growth agenda and will tackle more than 21,000 regulations to give a “real boost to growth and personal freedoms”.
What does it mean for retailers?
Retailers can express their views along with the wider business community, and it is over-regulation in the retail sector that is being put under the microscope first. Following this, every few weeks a new set of regulations - organised around themes - will open on the website for anyone to comment on.
Retailers will be hoping that a cut in red tape will enable them to operate more efficiently. Former BRC director-general Kevin Hawkins has been appointed the sector champion for retail to provide “expert knowledge” and will also act as an intermediary between retail and Government.
Business secretary Vince Cable said: “The retail sector is a key part of our economy and essential to driving private sector-led growth. It also has to deal with hundreds of different regulations. Some are there for good reasons. But some serve no purpose at all.”
Which regulations will be looked at within retail?
A whole raft, ranging from the Indication of Prices (Beds) order 1978, which prevents people from specifying a price when re-selling a bed to the Pedal bicycles (safety) regulations 2010, which compel all bikes sold in the UK to be fitted with a bell, and various Orders prohibiting companies from ‘trading with the enemy’ dating from the war years when countries like French Indo-China were enemies.
Is the initiative welcomed by retailers?
The Association of Convenience Stores called it a “major and innovative new public consultation” but the BRC is more cautious.
BRC director of business and regulation Tom Ironside called the initiative a “good start” but cautioned: “This clear-out of old rules must be accompanied by a commitment on keeping new regulations to a minimum.”
Ironside wants proposals such as the supermarket adjudicator and tobacco display ban to be scrapped.