The government is to scrap up to 22,000 laws and regulations in an effort to make it easier for businesses to create jobs and grow, according to business minister Mark Prisk.
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Delegates to the Federation of Small Businesses conference in Liverpool on Friday heard Prisk announce a new website to hold a public audit of almost 22,000 statutory instruments now in force.
He said the legislation would be grouped into themes on the dedicated website. Businesses will be invited to tell the government what they think of them and how to improve the system.
Any overly burdensome or unnecessary regulations would be scrapped unless government departments could prove a good reason for them.
Business secretary Vince Cable said the smallest and genuine start-up companies would be free from some regulations as well as obligations for flexible working and giving time off to train. "It will let them concentrate on growing their company, not thinking about dealing with the latest request from government," he said.
Cable said he would repeal the rule that meant employers had to allow parents of 17-year olds the right to flexible working, due to come into force on 6 April.
Firms with fewer than 250 staff would be allowed to refuse requests for time off for training.
Audit rules for smaller firms would be brought into line with the minimum required by EU directives, freeing small companies from unnecessary audit fees.
The government would also review new regulations after five years to see if they are effective, if they are still necessary, and whether the costs to business could be cut. If they worked as expected, the regulation would hold for five more years.
Better Regulation executive chairman Sir Don Curry, who has been asking government to cut the red tape that confronts small businesses, was "delighted".
"I would urge government to continue to look at measures such as this to continue to help economic growth," he said.