Retailer groups have given a cautious welcome to the government’s pledge to cut red tape.

The Association of Convenience Stores and the British Retail Consortium backed the launch this week of the Red Tape Challenge website, which gives businesses and members of the public a forum to highlight badly designed regulations they believe create an unnecessary burden.

The campaign, unveiled by the Prime Minister and business secretary Vince Cable, began with a focus on the retail sector. Every few weeks a new set of regulations, organised around different themes, will be open for comment. Once the theme is closed to the public, ministers will have three months to explain why a regulation is still required or it will be scrapped.

A BRC spokeswoman described the website as a “good start” but pointed out that changes to regulations must be significant enough to genuinely ease the burden on retailers.

“There are a lot of very small, very detailed pieces of regulation, which will only apply to a tiny number of companies on very few occasions,” she said.

“While it is good that minor rules are cleared up, we want to see significant changes, which will have an impact across a wider range for a larger number of companies.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman (pictured) said independent retailers were hit particularly hard by complying with bad regulation.

“By bringing out for open scrutiny all regulations affecting retailers, the government and retailers themselves can identify the ones that bring bureaucracy and costs without delivering their objectives,” he said. “The ACS will play an active role in advising what regulations need to go in order to get the balance right.”

The Licensing Act 2003, which prevents people under the age of 16 buying liqueur chocolates, is among the regulations open for debate.

Visit the Red Tape Challange website here.

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