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One in, two out: Michael Fallon's scythe to red tape

in Opinion by . .

Charlie Mullins applauds the business secretary for his "common sense mathematics" in introducing the "one in, two out" policy.

The word "cut" is, in political and business circles, more often than not surrounded by negative connotations. 

In a tough economic climate were bombarded by talk of budget cuts, jobs cuts and spending cuts.

Luckily, business secretary Michael Fallon has found a much better use for the word: he's taking a metaphorical scythe to red tape by announcing to scrap two regulations for every new one that’s brought in.

In real terms, says Fallon, if any government department wants to introduce a new regulation that will create one extra pound of cost, that department has to remove two pounds of costs elsewhere.

That’s a great piece of common sense mathematics in anyone’s book. Divide anything by two and you get half as much - in terms of red tape, that’s a very important step in the right direction.

His "one in, two out" policy is a fine example of a minister who can keep things simple and have the confidence he can make a real difference on behalf of the business community he is in office to support.

The initiative, which will be confirmed in the Autumn Statement in a couple of weeks, is an extension of the "one in, one out" policy of business secretary Vince Cable, but with a lot more bite to it. 

According to Fallon, while the "one-in, one-out" rule generated £850m worth of savings, most government departments hit their targets fairly easily, which suggested they could go further and cut more.

What’s particularly impressive is that this cull isn’t just confined to one particular government department.  Fallon will be wielding his scythe in other departments dealing with matters such as immigration, tax and health and safety, which all generate red tape that chokes the life out of businesses.

It’s this kind of attitude from the business department that firms really need if we are to pull ourselves out of the economic mire by the bootstraps.

They’ve not stood still and thought practically about what they can do to help business by trimming back the deep and dark forest of paperwork and red tape that firms have to negotiate every day.

The complexity of red tape makes business difficult and is a distraction from our main job; building our companies and creating jobs.

Hopefully, that’s exactly what removing twice the burden when a new rule is introduced will achieve.

Fallon should be applauded for the forthright, business-like stance he has taken since becoming minister. 

While businesses are cutting their cloth accordingly to stay afloat, it appears that they will be getting somewhat of a helping hand from politicians. And maybe, just maybe, when all the regulations have been cut in half they’ll consider dividing them by two again.

Charlie Mullins is founder and CEO of Pimlico Plumbers.

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