The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) today published an ambitious simplification plan to save business up to £700 million a year as part of a cross-Government drive to cut red tape.
The plan sets out how the DTI will deliver specific cuts in administrative burdens as part of Government moves towards a challenging target to cut 25% of all DTI red tape by 2010.
Today's plan builds on an earlier draft published a year ago and includes many key measures that focus on technology-enabled improvements, like electronic filing of financial and regulatory documents.
They include new plans, set out in full for the first time today, to simplify consumer protection legislation by replacing and improving provisions in twenty two pieces of consumer legislation, through DTI-led implementation of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.
A new International Trade Single Window is planned to allow traders to lodge information with a single body to fulfil all import and export regulatory requirements. The one-stop-shop has just gone live through the Business Link website and is expected to deliver savings of some £60m a year.
The implementation of the Companies Act 2006 enables companies to communicate with shareholders electronically, which is estimated to save larger firms £100,000-400,000 per mailing. And form filling and access to Companies House registration and database services is being improved with automated systems. The Government said over 50% of annual returns are being filed electronically and that the £13m in savings could be increased by a further £60m as a result of a joint filing initiative with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.
A Retail Enforcement Initiative will also establish new ways of working between trading standards, environmental health, and health and safety and fire authorities to achieve a third fewer inspections for compliant businesses. As announced to the CBI last month, pilots launched in Bexley and Warwickshire in 2005 will be rolled out to 70 authorities from April 2007.
A root and branch review announced last week will also aim to simplify and improve employment dispute resolution. The review and a new panel will look into and advise on wider employment law simplification, making suggestions for other areas where for simplification without reducing employee rights.
John Cridland, CBI Deputy Director General commented on the DTI's simplification plan, and particularly welcomed the employee dispute review.
"The DTI's regulatory simplification plan focuses effort in the right areas that matter to business,” he said. “Employment legislation is the biggest regulatory concern for most companies and action here will be particularly important. The Plan is an encouraging road map; delivery of it will be the real prize for business."