The British government has, apparently, told the Federation of Small Businesses that it will consider abolishing up to 22,000 business regulations.
The first response from any right minded person will be “What the ...? How on earth did we ever get in a position of having so many regulations in the first place?”
If the government will consider abolishing this number we ponder how many there are in total – 40,000, 50,000?
But, don’t get too excited. As ever, the devil is in the detail. First, the government has said it will abolish up to 22,000 regulations. It could only abolish one regulation and still, technically, comply with this undertaking.
Second, regulations will only be abolished if officials do not find good reason for them to stay. These are same officials who introduced the regulations in the first place. No doubt in the crazy, alternative reality in which they inhabit there were – and more importantly, remain – so called good reasons for all this nonsense.
As optimists we’d like to believe the government. As realists we know this is just another cynical exercise in vote grabbing that will have desperately little economic effect.
The government should realise at this stage of the electoral cycle – the next election is over 4 years away – populist measures are a waste of time, as they will be long forgotten come voting day. Instead, now is the time to do what it is essential, though possibly politically unpopular, to do.
Two years ago we predicted the recovery would be a jobless recovery. As with so many of our predictions, we have been proved right. Economic recovery, and job creation too, will not come about by silly, vote grabbing gestures.
Tomorrow sees the annual UK Budget, trailed as the most pro-growth budget in a generation. If we are to see genuine economic and job growth the government has got to take real action to decimate the swath of anti-business employee rights legislation, abolish jobs taxes and provide meaningful incentive to risk takers.
Alas, tomorrow looks like it’ll turn into just another disappointment.