Small firms and FSA

Smaller companies' support to the FSA has decreased over the last two years. The main reasons are the continued high cost of regulation and a confusion over FSA's strategic and policy work. The FSA's recent announcement that it will switch to a principle-based rulebook has increased smaller business' fears. Bigger companies are able to pay for consultants to advise on regulations but smaller ones will have to spend a huge amount of their valuable time on getting to grips with the new changes.


MOT and red tape

The government has decided to look at scrapping the annual MOT test in favour of one every two years, a move that could save motorists millions of pounds. Currently the UK motorists are checked more frequently than their European counterparts. Heavy regulatory burden is often blamed on the EU and on the incomprehensible amount of rules that emerge from Brussels. But in the case of MOT, the UK government has undertaken more regulations than requird by the EU. Maybe the government just finds it easier to blame the EU for its own fascinations with red tape?

Another bureaucratic improvement?

There is more bad news for the Home Office - today's jail watchdog's report reveals the extent of mismanagement of the largest immigration removal centre. The government has promised to respond by a detailed action plan. But there have been such action plans before and nothing has improved. Will the next one be another "purely bureaucratic exercise with no impact on the centre's practices" (from the report)?

Planning regulations

According to the Times the Government will announce this week that council will have to assess children's needs before granting planning permission for new homes. This means housing developments will have to include access to gardens, parks and playgrounds. Also, the move is to boost family homes after an increase in the building of one and two bedroom flats.

Cutting red tape

Tony Blair promised to cut red tape for business by 25% yesterday (28 Nov) in his speech at the CBI conference. In his address today, Gordon Brown is expected to announce reforms desinged to deliver a "more modern, simpler and consistent" tax system. The PM said that bureaucracy cost almost £15 billion a year and they have identified annual savings of £2.2 billion. And Gordon's announcement comes as a response to growing criticism that the tax system has become uncompetitive.

Taxing regulation

A CBI survey found that some of the major British companies have moved abroad and more companies are considering the move to escape high corporate taxes. Businesses are discontent with the complexity of tax rules, aggressive attitudes of tax collection and high compliance cost.

Gordon's green credentials

Today's Independent (24 Nov) reports the fall of revenue from green taxes which have fallen to their lowest level for at least 18 years. Green taxes is the most efficient way of tackling climate change but the Government doesn't seem to understand that. Gordon Brown is almost certainly preparing another of his famously complex solutions to the problem which will help no one in the end.

Regulating travel insurance

The Treasury yesterday (23 Nov) launched a public consultation on travel insurance on grounds that "the market is not working well enough to prevent mis-selling." The last consultation on travel insurance was only three years ago when the Government decided that it is not necessary to regulate the sector. During the last review, most of the travel agents were against regulations and argued that the sector's code of conduct is sufficient to prevent any wrong-doing. Much could not have changed since. Regulations is not the way forward but it is the responsibility of the purchaser to check the T&C of the insurace one is buying.

MoD spending

NAO report reveals that MoD projects are overspent by £3 billion and are a total of 36 years late. The fleet is ageing, it takes more and more money to carry out repairs and the supply of new equipment is months if not years away. This must make a grim reading for the Government especially at a time of continued heavy fighting on two fronts.

Great war tactics

The troops in Afganistan fighting the Taleban don't only fight the dangerous enemy but also the MoD to get proper ammunition. According to the Telegraph, the MoD sent the troops faulty ammunition as it was cheaper. Proper ammunition was sent after the special forces got involved. The MoD ended up spending more than it would have done if it had bought working ammunition in the first place.

Conflicting health policies

The Telegraph reports that hopitals are advised not to treat patients "too promptly" as this is costing too much money. The "Choose and Book" system has allowed patients to book early appointments which means that hospitals might lose money by giving appointments to patients that have waited less than 8 weeks. The "Choose and Book" system was created to give patients a wide choice of hospitals and to be treated promptly. But by restiricting available appointments to save money the Labour government contradicts its health policies yet again.

Eddington review

The release of the important transport review has been delayed and it is now expected to be published with the pre budget report. The delay has not stopped the chief of the review to move to Australia and take up several high positions, including leading a transport review of the state of Victoria.

The review that examines issues such as north south high-speed rail link, road charging and greater investment, is now led by a group of civil servants. This of course poses the question whether the review will represent independent findings as was its original function.  

Tsunami aid

Public Accounts Committe yesterday congratulated officials and ministers for "swift and impressive" response to the Asian tsunami. But the Independent reports that more than £9 million of British aid was sitting unspent in bank accounts 16 months after the distaster and the Department for International Development (DfID) has clawed back £2.5 million of it. DfID will now decide how to spend the money, partly donated by the public. £9 million is a relatively small amount but could make a huge difference to the people affected.

Scrap the site

Downing Street has set up an e-petitions website and it has become very succesful. Succesful in a sense that people are visiting the site and signing petitions, but will it really change anything? There is a petition to scrap the ID cards with almost 3,000 signatures but it is certain that the Government will not change its line on ID cards. People will receive a response to the petitions they have signed but that does not mean that any action will be taken. So really, what's the point...?


The Olympic bill has risen by 40% since the Games were won last year and its is likely that it will go up even further. The Government must sort out this chaos at once and it needs to get a grip on all the costs and where the funding will be coming from.

One thing at a time

John Reid's tough talk when becoming home secretary has not been matched in paractice. The Home Office has missed the PM's "tipping point" targets of deported asylum seekers and 25% less people were deported in the last three months. The Home Office has been busy sorting out other matters and staff responsible for immigration was switched to deal with the issue of foreign prisoners.

Parenting centres, super nannys and databases....

The Guardian reports that the Government is creating a new database containing the details of every child in England from birth to the age of 18. It is justified on grounds of better protection and for improved coordination among different bodies. This, like the previously announced parenting schools and super nannys, is a clear example of government interferring further into our daily lives. The recent initiatives show that the Governemnt does not trust parents to bring up well-behaved children and that they believe only heavy-handed methods will help to improve behaviour and protection.

Super nanny to the rescue

First the Government announced that parents that don't read and sing for their children will be helped to do so in new parenting centres and today's (21 Nov) papers are reporting that £4 million will be spent on "super nannys" (=child psychologists) to crack down on anti-social behaviour.