Chancellor to promise a Budget bonfire of red tape

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The Independent Online

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, will this week promise to cut away the tangle of red tape suffocating British companies and is planning heavyweight appointments to a new executive body to oversee a streamlining of business rules and regulations.

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, will this week promise to cut away the tangle of red tape suffocating British companies and is planning heavyweight appointments to a new executive body to oversee a streamlining of business rules and regulations.

In his Budget speech on Wednesday, Mr Brown will announce the formation of a Better Regulation Executive to be chaired by a senior figure from business. The executive's board will include Sir Andrew Turnbull, the cabinet secretary, and Gus O'Donnell, the Treasury's most senior civil servant.

The formation of the executive will be couched as evidence that Mr Brown is serious about relieving business of the regulatory burden that an explosion of government-sponsored quangos has created.

Part of the body's role will be to implement the findings of a Treasury-commissioned report into red tape written by Philip Hampton, the chairman of J Sainsbury.

Only recently, the Centre for Policy Studies, a right-wing think-tank, concluded that 111 quangos or regulatory bodies had come into being since Labour took office in 1997.

Mr Hampton is expected to conclude that many of these bodies could be merged and those remaining could work more closely together.

The Government's Better Regulation Executive will also take over the work conducted by the Regulatory Impact Unit, which assesses the regulatory costs of government initiatives.

The Budget will contain as its key message to business that the Treasury is determined to introduce effective deregulation to help companies reduce their regulatory costs, so they can compete more effectively with overseas firms operating under less stringent regimes.

Mr Brown is predicted to be ready to give away only a modest £2bn as a sweetener in the run-up to a general election this spring, with most of that going to pensioners and children.

A YouGov poll published yesterday shows that the most-hated tax in Britain is petrol duty, with the television licence and stamp duty on home purchases coming second and third respectively.

The survey, for IFA Promotion, the trade body for independent financial advisers, found that 60 per cent of adults resent their tax bills rising but that three-quarters took no action to limit the amount of tax they pay.

David Elms, the chief executive of IFA Promotion, said: "We may well see action on one or more of these tax-hates on Budget day, but in reality nine out of 10 people are shelling out an average £133 each year in unnecessary tax, more than the cost of a TV licence fee.

He added: "As a nation we waste £5.7bn a year in tax, but this huge amount could be slashed by taking just a few simple steps."

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