Revealed: The people's guide to common sense

The coalition's invitation to think of ways that the UK could be improved produced more than 14,000 suggestions. Here's just a selection
Click to follow
Indy Politics

Amalgamate CRB-check provisions

I am a school governor, member of the Youth Justice Panel and of the management committee of a youth club, all of which require separate Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) accreditations. As a boring 63-year-old woman I am not likely to start to offend. The focus should be on specific categories of people, rather than everyone who may come into contact with children. I am going to be involved with Meals on Wheels, which will presumably entail a further CRB check in case I am going to start offending against old people. ( suestibbs)

Reduce business rates in town centres and increase them in out-of-town parks

Town centres all over the UK are dying and rates in many towns are prohibitive. I propose that town-centre businesses have a reduced rating, as much as two-thirds reduction. The lost revenue should be levied on the out-of-town business and retail parks. They should also be taxed on the amount of cars they allow free parking for per annum. ( DrGCT)

Repeal sections 11-14A of the Public Order Act

These sections of the POA should be repealed as they constitute an unacceptable restriction of the right to protest. These laws are also widely subject to abuse, one of the most notorious examples being at the G20 protests in 2009. ( veggiesosage)

Scrap mandatory training and excessive inductions for NHS staff

Every year the entire NHS workforce has to undertake 10 to 20 days of mandatory training. This is often of marginal or no relevance. For example, I have to do "Food Preparation and Hygiene" but I never prepare food at work. I work in outpatients. Even admin staff or surgeons have to do it, although it forms no part of their role. We all need to do "Object Moving and Handling" – this is not in my role. And "Patient Moving and Handling" – I never move or handle patients! All staff in my trust also have a three-day induction which is about 2.5 days more than necessary! ( kkpilgrim)

Why I'm not taking my class on a trip before the end of term

I want to take my reception class to the local church to look at signs and symbols, and also for a walk in the local environment. As a primary school teacher we used to fill out a paper risk assessment which the headteacher would sign, and off we would go. Now we have to put in an e-request via "evolve education visits" which takes too much time and a fortnight to get authorised – even for going for a walk! There are at least four visits this year, including the two above, which haven't gone ahead because of this onerous, meaningless and damaging (to the children's education) system. ( ibainbridge)

Abolish control orders

Control orders punish people without giving them a fair trial. They impose severe restrictions on the liberty and rights of people suspected of involvement in terrorism-related activity. If people are suspected of a criminal offence they should be charged and given a fair trial. ( Kate Allen)

Clubs and voluntary associations corporation tax red tape

Please reinstate the £10,000 threshold in relation to submission of a corporation tax (CT) return, which was removed two years ago. I run a voluntary association staffed by non-paid members of the community. All surpluses, which are invariably less than £10,000, get reinvested in the community yet we have to submit a CT return annually. Over the past two years, we have exchanged copious amounts of correspondence with HMRC, submitted two tax returns and paid the grand sum of £62 in CT. ( dmcew)



Remove Sunday trading laws

Remove Sunday trading laws forcing stores to close early on a Sunday. ( sailingman123)

Stop police arresting/harassing innocent photographers

Photography in urban places should not be a crime. I used to be a keen urban and landscape photographer, often working at night or in unusual places. Although I have never been arrested, I have been harassed numerous times and now have given up. The balance between anti-terrorism and freedom has gone too far. Using a camera should not be a crime in a free country. ( manwood)

Remove requirements that research be funded based on 'impact'

The last government changed how money is allocated for publicly funded scientific research so that it is based on potential economic "impact". So whether businesses will benefit or whether the research will increase GNP are used to decide which research gets our money. A lot of research, when it is first started, has no obvious benefit to mankind. The scientists are motivated by a thirst for knowledge. Spending money on such research isn't wasteful though – not only can it improve man's understanding of the natural world, but often it can have massive economic benefits that can't be predicted before the research is conducted. ( Albatross)

Abolish compulsory collective worship in schools

Religion should be an individual's private matter, not compulsory. The state and its institutions should be secular, including schools. ( jimwhippe)

Repeal laws that prevent working from home

Most residential tenancies and many mortgage agreements specifically state that the person is not allowed to operate a business from their home. Running a business from home might be as simple as buying and selling things on eBay, designing websites or doing some kind of handicraft to sell. These types of things cause no problem for anyone else and so all restrictions in local authority or landlord and tenant law should be lifted. Remember, the Body Shop was started from Anita Roddick's kitchen table. ( biggerpicture)

Remove the VAT on the cost of professional carers

The cost of full- or part-time care should be immune from VAT. With an ageing population it should be made easier, not harder, to provide care for family members in their own homes. ( TF)

Remove many 'continuous competence' requirements for managers

There is an increasing tendency for government agencies to demand "continuous competence" or "deemed competence" qualifications for managers/employees in small businesses. I deal with the dismantling of vehicles and I am the designated "competent person" under the regulations designed to deal with "waste" sites such as my own. I now need, apparently, to keep renewing this registration every couple of years – which must be with a private external organisation at significant cost – to do a job that we have, as a family, been doing for 45 years, and which, frankly, we know more about than the training assessors. ( jball)

'Phone number withheld' legislation

Please make it illegal for any caller to withhold their phone number; especially marketing and cold-calling messages. The very fact that they can and do withhold their number immediately raises suspicions as to their business integrity. ( P Chapman)

Repeal child-minding laws introduced since 1997

Labour bureaucracy, from the "nappy curriculum", to paedo-mania, to molly-coddling elf' en' safety legislation has rendered informal child-minding impractical, forcing parents to pay for expensive nursery places or to stay at home all day. Repeal this legislation to 1997 standards and allow this once-healthy cottage industry to resume. ( WizardOfID)

Remove the need to complete equality impact assessments

I am chief executive of a small charity – £250,000 turnover and eight staff. I hold one contract with the local council (Luton Borough). There appears to be an obligation on all government departments to complete equality impact assessments on all their policies and procedures. This obligation is also devolved to me (and all the other council suppliers). This will be a massive, time-consuming task that will deliver no benefit to the vulnerable clients we exist to support and will divert my resources (only person in a management role in the organisation) from fundraising and improving our services. However, if I do not do this, I will fail this element of the quality assessment process and risk not having my contract continued. ( hilarymillswilliams)

Drop VAT from refurbishment work

At present refurbishment of buildings is liable to VAT while new construction isn't. Dropping VAT on refurbishment would help developers keep precious old buildings and would help incentivise energy-efficiency retrofits. ( HCF)

Cancel the national Summary Care Records

No one is responsible for ensuring they are accurate or relevant. Tens of thousands of people with NHS smart cards will have access. One in 10 medical records so far uploaded on this database contains errors which could put patients at risk, according to doctors' practices that have checked those uploaded. Second, to assume patients have given permission by not opting out is an incorrect way to proceed as it assumes they all received letters and understood they had to opt out. ( hplane)

Stop premium rate 0871 numbers for government departments

Taxation, the Jobcentre Plus, NHS hospitals, social services, and tax offices are essential to every person in this country, and if you will be closing local offices in favour of call centres, then be fair and have at least a local call rate, or even a free number. ( Tanya Petrena)

Incorporate road tax into fuel cost

When I lived in the US, in California, the federal/state and local taxes were added to the cost of fuel, plus a road tax approximately 2 cents a US gallon and, of course, sales tax at 7.25 per cent. Last time I checked, it was 44p per litre converted back into UK pounds and imperial gallons. So, if the Americans can do it and not have these ludicrous tax discs on the windscreen, nor have the ridiculous bureaucracy that goes along with issuance of tax discs, then we all benefit. ( Sly Fifer)

Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006

Is it sensible that someone's beliefs can be given the status of being publicly unquestionable by this law? It is surely our basic right to be able to clearly, openly and publicly question beliefs or opinions that others wish to force upon us as "eternal or universal truths". ( adamguyler)

End/reduce collection of data from internet service providers

ISPs have been bullied and cajoled into keeping vast quantities of information about every single action a person takes online. Being well versed in computers, I can avoid this if I so wish. Those who are most dangerous and require monitoring are completely able to ignore this and pass straight through the net, no matter how many "restrictions" are placed on it. ( Chris1479)

Ban wheel-clamping by private firms

To stop firms of thieves by another name (ie, wheel-clampers) from clamping cars on private or public land. Tens of thousands of drivers have money stolen from them by firms of very dubious individuals every year. Scotland has banned this vile practice, branding it "racketeering". It has proved to be a very popular ban, with no adverse effects on landowners, who already have legal recourse regarding cars parked illegally on their property. ( srlang)

Repeal the requirement for venues hosting one or two musicians to have a licence

Until the Licensing Act came into force in November 2006, venue owners did not require an entertainment licence for performances by only one or two musicians in a bar. Landlords now have to obtain a licence, costing up to £1,000, for any live performance. The really stupid thing is that while two people playing folk instruments are now not able to play gigs in some places that haven't got a licence, it is still possible to have a DJ pumping out ridiculously loud electronic music through a sound system. ( Cronkston)

Rescind the discontinuance of FM/AM radio

I have a DAB radio but do not use it as the reception fluctuates. It is going to be impossible for me to listen to the radio once they force the changeover unless a great deal of taxpayers' money is spent on improving reception. ( paulcox)

Repeal the 1878 'Bill of Sale' Act

This nasty little remnant of Dickensian England has recently been rediscovered by some loan sharks and is causing untold misery up and down the country. It is mainly used to loan money against a person's car. Incredibly, this Act allows repossession by breaking doors and windows in order to gain access to the vehicle. ( cicero4)

Rescind the CRC (Carbon Reduction Commitment) Energy Efficiency Scheme

This was introduced by Labour and puts a huge cost on small businesses. It requires a "registration" fee of £950, in order to submit information only. Most small businesses will be below the participating threshold of 6GWh annual consumption, and therefore will have no involvement in any energy-saving measures, but still must, by law, pay the £950. As just submitting data (requiring perhaps 15 minutes' processing) cannot possibly account for this huge fee, I conclude it is a scam to support another unnecessary quango. ( epalmer)

Scrap HTM 01-05

HTM 01-05 is a new range of cross-infection control regulations that have been imposed on the dental profession. There is little evidence to support its introduction. The net result is that dental practices will have to spend about £40,000 to implement the new regulations. Patients will inevitably have to pay increased dental charges, and there is already evidence that some practices are simply closing. ( jwsmith)

Our copyright laws need a 'fair use' clause

If I legitimately buy a music CD, then I should be able to make a backup and to transfer that music to my MP3 player or phone. Under our current laws, both are illegal – and that's just ridiculous. ( inappropriate)

Allow photos of children to be taken

Allow people to take photos at school events, etc, of children without needing permission, especially parents and family members. ( slittle)

Clarify section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 (online free speech)

Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 has been used recently to prosecute a man who used Twitter to make a remark that was incorrectly interpreted as a threat to plant a bomb at an airport. Paul Chambers was found guilty of sending a menacing message under paragraph 1 of this Act. There has been debate about whether or not mens rea (guilty mind) must be proven in order to convict. This needs to be clarified such that the provision requires mens rea, and that mens rea must be in the context of targeting a particular person or group. ( flayman)

Make overselling of seats on planes illegal

Legislate against airlines being able to oversell places on planes – a major source of frustration and distress to the travelling public. ( ebarn)

Waste registration

I am a self-employed, small-scale gardener. I have recently received a letter from the Environment Agency asking me to pay £150 registration in order for me to carry waste in my van. If I do not pay this sum and I am caught carrying any waste "no matter how small" then I may face a fine of up to £5,000. ( boxmoor)

Charity registration threshold

The Charity Act of 2006 requires all charities to register which have an income exceeding £5,000. This is much too low and imposes legal requirements on very small organisations which don't have the resources for such work and which don't need government monitoring. This generates unnecessary work for the Charity Commission which should be concentrating its efforts on monitoring the bigger sums of money. It is suggested that this limit be increased considerably so that small organisations are not burdened with paperwork out of proportion to their activities. At least £10,000, or even £20,000, would be more appropriate. ( jspds)

Councils forced to impose unnecessary speed limits

I live in East Yorkshire where we have a situation where 40mph and 50mph speed limits have been imposed (down from 60mph) in rural, non-built-up areas. I would want the Government to require councils to review all the reduced speed limits with a view to restoring the national limit of 60mph in most cases. ( allotmentspel)

Student letting planning permission order 2010

If I buy a property for my student son or daughter to use while they are at university, I must obtain planning permission if they take on three non-family members to share the property and costs. This red tape will discourage parents from buying and upgrading run-down properties in run-down areas making them habitable, safe and productive for future occupancy. ( patricks)

Legalisation of cannabis

Please change the laws on cannabis: billions could be raised through taxation, dealers would be eradicated, no more contaminated weed slowly killing our people. I am fed up with being made to feel like a criminal for using something natural, grown from seed. ( dan2181)

Temporary event notices

Currently, a temporary event notice can be required to hold a school disco for pupils and the screening of a film. There are approximately 24,000 events held in school every year organised by parent-teacher associations involving some form of regulated entertainment. A PTA may have to gain a temporary event notice in order to invite the local community to participate and to raise funds for the benefit of the school. An exemption for regulated entertainment at schools (possibly limited to not-for-profit activity) would enable PTAs to get on with organising fundraising activities in schools without incurring a cost of £21 per event (potentially a cumulative cost of £500k a year) and at the same time reducing the administrative burden. ( A Wiles)

Overhaul the learning and skills arrangements

Scrap the large number of quangos operating in the "education and skills" area. In particular, there is no justification for Sector Skills Councils. Stop writing blank cheques from the taxpayer to 100-plus awarding bodies which are all competing with each other for "business". Abandon the Qualifications Credit Framework which is wrecking many perfectly sound vocational qualifications, adding complexity where none is needed, and is apparently driven by an unwanted and unjustified plan by Brussels for a European Qualifications Framework. ( martincarter)

Thirty-day payment terms should be a legal requirement

I run a small business and always put payment terms of 30 days on my invoices, but rarely get paid in 30 days. Some companies' terms and conditions specify four to six weeks, and some large companies force suppliers to wait 90 days! The law should be changed so if a company specifies 30 days on its paperwork, any delay will automatically add substantial interest to the total. ( clarinetjeanette)

Abolish burdens on volunteer drivers to sports events

The Welsh Sports Association believes that the Government should abolish the requirement under the Local Transport Act 2008 that volunteers driving children to an event, even in a small car, require a Section 19 permit from the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency if they are taking contributions from the passengers towards the cost of fuel. ( pavery)

Change the Health Act 2006

I believe it should be up to pubs and restaurants and other public places whether to ban smoking, as long as there are places set aside for smokers which are well-ventilated. Smokers shouldn't be treated like criminals and lepers just because they smoke. ( pat)

Repeal the regulation that makes lifts use double the energy necessary

Repeal the current regulations which require all modern lifts to return to the ground floor every time they are used. A 50 per cent reduction in energy consumption on all the lifts installed in recent years would make a significant contribution to the UK's carbon footprint target. ( Barry1936)

Repeal EU law outlawing 800 traditional vegetable varieties

The EU law outlawing 800 traditional vegetable varieties should be repealed to ensure these varieties do not become extinct. ( alderleycat)

Amend the Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005/2009

The Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005 (as amended 2009) require all producers of substances deemed hazardous waste (which covers substances from used engine oil to fluorescent lights) to register with the Environment Agency and pay an annual fee, in return for which they receive a registration number and nothing else. Companies that collect and dispose of hazardous waste are not permitted to collect waste from a producer who does not have a valid registration number. It's a makework scheme funded by yet another tax on business. ( glencoyne)

Validation of planning applications

I have been a development control planning officer for 30 years and an independent planning consultant for four years. Local planning authorities are presently using national and local validation requirements too rigorously and without proper judgement. This requires a disproportionate amount of information to accompany a minor planning application. There should not be a requirement for a contaminated land survey to accompany an application for a single house, a conversion into a single house, unless the site has a known history of industrial use or there is obvious evidence of a contaminated site. ( stevenbottomley)

Repeal the retention of minor convictions on the police national computer

Until the end of 2006 it was possible to apply to have one's criminal record erased in the case of minor and long-ago offences. Now these offences, although they may appear on a Criminal Records Bureau reference only at police discretion, remain on the police national computer until 100 years after the death of the subject. ( Adejackson)

Knowledge should never be illegal

It should never be illegal to own a book such as The Poor Man's James Bond or The Anarchist's Cookbook. The idea that one could be jailed for merely owning "material that could be of use to terrorists" is abhorrent in a free society. Should we criminalise maps because terrorists could use them to plan atrocities? Why then should we criminalise these books? Reading them does not make one a terrorist any more than owning a map of London. ( noonespecial)

Reduced applications for disability assistance

Our son has many complex, congenital deformities. As a result, he is under seven different teams at Great Ormond Street Hospital. We currently have to apply throughout the year for various assistance. For example, disability living allowance, carer's allowance, a blue badge for the car, exemption from the congestion charge, a statement of special educational needs, etc. I am always filling in some form or application. A disabled person should be met with by a medical professional, assessed, and information then held centrally that generates their inclusion in these schemes automatically rather than making already stretched families jump through numerous hoops every time something is needed. ( helsenner)

Comments