The Government has been running Red Tape Challenge since April 2011, an online website (www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk) designed to engage public opinion and obtain the public’s view on “regulation”, specifically, how to cut red tape. The initiative is due to run until April 2013, “spotlighting” on different areas of regulation on a rolling basis. Throughout the process the website will be publishing general regulations that cross all sectors, specifically on equality, health and safety, environment, employment related law, company and commercial law and pensions. Alongside these cross cutting themes there are spotlight windows for users to submit views on regulations affecting a specific sector or industry. The current spotlight is on children’s services and education which will run approximately during the month of September.
It is envisaged that all the proposals put forward on the general themes and spotlight sectors will be reviewed by a ministerial “star chamber” with the presumption that all burdensome regulations will go unless departments can justify why they are needed.
Red Tape Challenge welcomes any suggestions of sectors that should be examined and promotes itself as wishing to encourage open discussions of ways in which the aims of existing regulation can be fulfilled in the least burdensome way possible. This openness appears to have been borne out, for example, the Cabinet Office added an “enforcement” section giving users the opportunity to comment between June and August in response to views that it was not regulation itself that was the problem but the way in which it is enforced.
It will be interesting to see if any fresh ideas will be generated as a result of the process although the publicity for Red Tape Challenge appears to have been relatively low. Additionally as is often true, it is likely that those who are most vocal are those who wish to see regulations cut, perhaps with no thought to the need for modification or replacement.