Headlines: September 11th, 2012

Owners of shops, offices, pubs and clubs have been promised that will no longer face burdensome health and safety inspections with the scrapping or overhaul of 3,000 regulations. But earlier initiatives have made similar promises with little result.

The British Safety Council argues enforcement of regulations is already proportional, targeted and consistent. Resources are currently focussed on higher-risk work activities, while ensuring that any beaches of the law or health and safety failures are investigated, and where appropriate enforcement action taken.

The Forum of Private Business has welcomed what it describes as another government drive to ease the burden of red tape on small firms. But there is concern that it might make little difference. Despite earlier initiatives 84 per cent of Private Business Forum members reported an increase in time spent complying with legislation since 2009.

This picture is repeated across all businesses. The National Audit Office Business Perceptions Survey found that one third of businesses of all sizes believe that complying with all regulations has become more time consuming over the past 12 months.

The red tape cuts announcement emphasises reductions in inspection, but the British Safety Council claims that every workplace in Great Britain can, presently, expect a visit from an inspector on average once every 38 years.

The administration of Health and Safety legislation is estimated to cost businesses £3.8b each year.