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Reform local regulation body, not scrap it

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The body responsible for monitoring the effects of business red tape on a local scale should be reformed rather than abolished, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has said.

The performance of the Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) is to be the subject of a government assessment.

While welcoming the review, the FSB expressed worries that the LBRO might be dropped altogether.

The FSB said that research showed that one in three smaller firms think that regulation is the largest obstacle to growth and added that there is a role for a body whose purpose is to support and represent small firms’ views on red tape within local authorities. 

The FSB wants the government to revamp the LBRO by giving it extra powers in all areas of local authority regulation.

These would include enforcing a regime of compulsory booked inspections; guaranteeing that all small firms are provided with a single point of contact within their local authority for all regulatory matters; and carrying out an annual rating review of local government regulatory services.

John Walker, the FSB’s national chairman, said: “Creating a robust relationship between small firms and regulatory services locally should be a high priority for the government if they are to truly deliver on their pledge to cut red tape. At the FSB we know that small businesses prefer to receive information from a local, single source and so this power should be provided locally.

“The LBRO should be a key body that represents the needs and views of small businesses on red tape to local authorities to drive best practice. Yet it has never been given the true powers it needs to fulfil its role. The FSB is urging the government not to bin the LBRO, but to revamp the body. We look forward to working with the government in this review.”