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HESELTINE ANNOUNCES NEW DEREGULATORY MEASURES

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Repeal of the Trustee Investments Act; abolition or simplification of 67 business licences; one-stop-shops for buil...
Repeal of the Trustee Investments Act; abolition or simplification of 67 business licences; one-stop-shops for building development approvals; cuts of over a quarter in government statistical forms and surveys. These are some of the new measures to help business outlined today by deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine.

In response to the 2nd annual Deregulation Task Force Report, Mr Heseltine said: 'Deregulation remains one of the government's top priorities. We have accepted the majority of the recommendations in this year's Deregulation Task Force Report and some of them are already being implemented.

'Our aim is to free business to do business, to create jobs and be competitive in world markets. That is why we are reducing the burden of regulations. In the last year alone we repealed or amended 420 regulations affecting businesses and we are due to achieve over 1100 repeals or amendments by the end of 1996. The vast majority - over 90% - of new regulations have no impact on business.

'The deregulation initiative is moving on. We are tackling outdated regulations and making the necessary ones simpler and easier to comply with. The government has a full agenda for the coming year and we will wherever practicable take the action that business has called for in this Report.'

The new initiatives include:

Forms & Surveys - The government aims to cut statistical forms and surveys by a quarter and simplify the data gathering process to save industry £17.5m a year by the end of the decade. For example, three year 'survey holidays' will be given to small firms who take part in some national statistical surveys.

Employment Regulations - The government will invite views from business and other interested parties on the Task Force's proposal that there should be a small firms exemption from unfair dismissal legislation for new employees. This would not affect current employees or extend to other grounds for access to industrial tribunals such as discrimination or maternity rights.

Better Government - Departments and agencies will in future have to consider alternatives to regulation when government action is called for.

This is in addition to measures already in place to foster a deregulatory approach within government departments. In particular, ministers must now report each month on all new regulations introduced by their departments. Compliance cost and risk assessments are now mandatory on proposed regulations, and measures have been introduced to ensure that EC requirements are not over-implemented.

Charities - The Trustee Investments Act will be repealed by a deregulation order in the autumn. This will benefit charitable trusts by at least £40m a year, by removing restrictions on where they can invest for the best returns. Charities are also set to benefit from proposed wider community reforms such as abolishing the licensing requirement for liquor prizes in raffles. Under these proposals Women's Institute members preparing food for sale at their markets would also be exempt from the requirements to register their private kitchens as food businesses.

Tax and National Insurance - The work of the three revenue departments - Contributions Agency, Customs & Excise and Inland Revenue - will be further streamlined. The single telephone helpline for employers, currently being piloted in Scotland, will be available next month across the UK. A telephone calculation service for new employers will be piloted, making it easier for them to work out their PAYE/NICS deductions. The government is cutting back PAYE/NICS paperwork with a single annual employers pack.

Building and Planning - No further extensions will be made to the coverage of the Building Regulations unless there is an EC requirement or exceptional justification. All local authority acts in England and Wales that duplicate or contradict national requirements will be repealed.

In addition 4 pilot 'one-stop-shops' will shortly be set up by local authorities to provide a single point for development related approval, including planning, building control and fire safety. The pilots will be: Bexley LBC; Brighton BC; Hartlepool BC and Wycombe DC.

Abolition of Licences - Some 67 business licences have been identified for abolition or reform as part of the government's two year review of all business licences. They include abolition of seven Customs & Excise licences such as those for gaming and distillers, and extended or continuous licences for betting offices, Heavy Goods Vehicle and Passenger Service Vehicle drivers.

Better Enforcement - Significant developments have already taken place to improve the enforcement of necessary regulations and make enforcers more business-friendly. This is being extended today with the publication of a new 'green card' for business people spelling out their rights, what they should expect from enforcers, and details of telephone helplines for more information. The card is being distributed nationally to over 100,000 businesses through employer organisations such as the CBI and the Federation of Small Businesses.

Financial Services - The Securities Investment Board and the Financial Services Regulators are today publishing an ambitious programme of reform, in response to task force proposals. In addition a deregulation seminar will be held for the financial services industry on 25 September, to seek their views on further reforms.

Europe - New developments to fight the case for deregulation in Europe include a joint initiative to work with Germany on simplifying legislation in the machinery sector and an Anglo-Austrian business seminar in London next month to look at the burdens of European legislation on small firms. Successes over the past year have included the establishment of the Simpler Legislation for the Internal Market (SLIM) initiative by the Commission, to try and simplify EC legislation.

The government's response includes many other new deregulatory measures and details developments since the first Task Force Report in 1995.

-- Non-media copies of the 2nd Deregulation Task Force Report and the Government's Response are available from Westex distributors on 0171 510 0146.

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