Help in costing new rules

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Businesses feeling besieged by ever-increasing regulations are getting a boost from a simple government guide designed to help minimise the cost of complying with legislation, writes Roger Trapp.

The booklet, Checking the Cost to Business: A Guide to Compliance Cost Assessment, just published by the Department of Trade and Industry's deregulation unit, is described by Neil Hamilton, the minister responsible for corporate affairs, as 'an important tool in the Government's renewed campaign to reduce burdens on business'. Although primarily designed to help officials deal ing with policy development,it is also being made available to companies.

Accompanying it is a commitment by the Government to analyse the cost of new regulations. Ministers expect to see a compliance cost assessment when they consider any planned regulation that affects business, while officials must consider such assessments from the earliest stages of formulating a policy and refer to them when consulting with businesses.

In a foreword to the guide, John Major, the Prime Minister, makes the policy clear. 'Government must have proper regard to the overall impact of regulation on businesses and individuals. It must strike the balance between essential protection for the public and over- zealous, intrusive and expensive controls aimed at the elimination of all conceivable risk,' he writes.

Mr Hamilton added: 'We are determined to tackle the mountain of regulations, so it is essential that officials have the closest dialogue with business so they fully understand the costs of their proposals and can take steps to minimise them.' Otherwise, he said, the UK would suffer in lost investment, lost jobs and higher prices.

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