a. Voluntary measures to reduce regulation on business

The Coalition has suggested that voluntarily responsibility deals to reduce waste and increase recycling will reduce the need for further regulation on the business community. Voluntary responsibility deals will look to work with businesses and encourage competition between signatories.

b. Voluntary sector taskforce

The Minister for Civil Society and Minister for Business and Enterprise have announced that a new taskforce has been established to identify the regulatory burdens on the voluntary sector. The taskforce aims to make it easier to run charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises by freeing up resources and time by removing unnecessary bureaucracy. This is intended, in the words of the Coalition, to 'help mobilise the Big Society'.

c. Task Force on Farming Regulation

The Coalition has announced the establishment of a new task force to reduce the bureaucratic burdens that English farmers and food producers face.

d. Vetting and Barring Scheme revisions

The start date for voluntary registration of the scheme has been postponed until the scheme has been revised back to 'proportionate levels' by the Home Office in partnership with the Department of Health and Department of Education. The VBS is designed to protect children and vulnerable adults by preventing those who pose a known risk from gaining access to them through their work. The scope of the revisions will be announced shortly.

e. Ban on wheel clamping

The Home Office Minister has announced that the Freedom Bill (anticipated to be introduced to the Commons in November 2010) will include a ban on wheel clamping on private land. This will criminalise the practice.

Our comment:

Promoting voluntary measures appears to be one of the Coalition's key strategies to decrease regulation, and we can expect to see much more of it.

The reduction in administration costs and time (as well as other factors such as being good for the environment or the community) are intended to give the target audience sufficient incentive to do it for themselves. Business sectors are being asked to take their lead from existing examples, such as the grocery sector's 'Courtauld Commitment' which has been tackling food and packaging waste since 2005 and achieved a halt in the growth of packaging waste by 2008. This strategy has the benefit of common sense, and to that extent is welcome. If businesses can get together to create appropriate self-regulatory mechanisms, the state need not intervene. The idea has a long and often successful history - think of the Advertising Standards Authority - but there has been no previous attempt to encourage its systematic adoption across a range of policy areas.

Moreover, while the carrot is certainly clear, what is the stick? It is not clear what the Coalition's approach will be if there is a shortage of volunteers or, equally, a proliferation of uncommitted or incapable volunteers. And how is any self-regulatory system to be monitored to ensure that is effective?

Apart from creating an extra bank holiday - and sadly we can report no such proposal - a ban on private wheel clamping is probably the most populist measure the Coalition might hope to introduce. Although provisions to regulate wheel clampers exist in current legislation, they have never been brought into force. It would appear that the Coalition will count the removal of such dormant provisions as an achievement towards reducing the regulatory burden on society. But is banning wheel clamping on private land really a measure for the Freedom Bill? Whether or not it is deregulatory depends entirely on where you stand. It certainly looks that way to the average car driver, but must look rather different from the perspective of a land owner, for whom a total ban is surely the ultimate form of regulation. Sometimes, one person's freedom requires another person's restraint.