28 May, 2022

Seeing red (January 2014)

06 May, 2014
As most businesses know only too well, their primary focus has to be on providing the best possible service or products for end customers. In so doing, there is of course is a greater likelihood that customers will continue to knock on the door over the long term, confident in the knowledge that the efficiencies they have come to associate with their provider of choice will continue to impress for years to come. And through this remaining a mutually beneficial supplier-customer relationship over the long haul solutions or service providers stand the best chance of remaining profitable while also protecting and even enhancing their brand image. However, there can be issues that consistently and incessantly take management’s eye off this fundamental matter of importance. Several are often referenced in this journal – for example, all matters concerning regulations and standards (see our Annual Boardroom Report beginning on page 29 for more on this topic), part of which involves negotiating the reams of legal documentation a firm is expected to keep abreast of on a regular basis. This, I would stick my neck out and say, can often not only prove to be a rather vexing and time-absorbing exercise for just about every company in the UK but also one that can endanger that all-important level of concentration needed to keep a company operating effectively. Government is often blamed for this onerous overkill concerning many things ‘red tape’-related, however it would appear that the current Coalition is about to give a considerable level of its attention to this very issue, recognising much of it to be, as Prime Minister David Cameron recently described it, “crazy”. Speaking at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) conference, he said the coalition intends to scrap or alter more than 3000 regulations from the "serious to the ridiculous". The Prime Minister added that 80,000 documents of environmental guidance will be substantially reduced; this includes some 380 pages on waste management and 286 pages of regulations on hedgerow maintenance. Approximately 100 house-building standards will also be reduced to fewer than 10. David Cameron commented that the current Coalition will be the first Government in modern history to reduce the overall burden of red tape, saving in excess of £850 million per annum. He continued: “We will scrap over-zealous rules which dictate how to use a ladder at work or what no-smoking signs must look like…We've changed the law so that businesses are no longer automatically liable for an accident that isn't their fault…And the new Deregulation Bill will exempt one million self-employed people from health & safety law altogether.” Reassuringly for UK firms, especially it would appear for SMEs, the Prime Minister went on to say he recognised that the future of Britain's economy depends on Britain's small businesses – “on those with the courage to strike out and start their own thing, who work all hours to succeed, who through love, sweat and tears make their business grow”. He continued: “We need you to keep on creating good private sector jobs, so that more people can earn a living for their families and have financial security for the future.” With such emphasis on red tape reduction, and in light of what the Coalition has already achieved in some quarters with regard to reducing the legislative burden on UK business, this sounds promising indeed. As Mike Cherry, the FSB’s national policy chairman, said at the conference, “…small firms are central to the UK's economic recovery. Having support from the Prime Minister and policymakers from all parties is critical to ensuring small business issues are front and centre of the economic debate around rebuilding and rebalancing our economy." Let’s hope red tape doesn’t get in the way of the Government delivering on its promises.

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