We can only hope they are more successful than much of what has gone before. A total of £3m has been freed up to help businesses hit by foot and mouth, 16 e-business clubs to help more smaller businesses do their stuff on-line have been created, and an independent voice for small firms' has been appointed. William Sargent, head of the Small Business Council, will take on this enhanced role and, as it says on an e-mail from the DTI, he will have access to the prime minister to discuss issues affecting small firms. I hope then that he will ensure the government keeps the promise it made earlier this month ­ to reduce or eliminate red tape in more than 250 ways that have been identified. I was talking to a forecourt retailer just before writing this column and he had just waved goodbye to yet another inspector. "I need four certificates just to sell the bloody stuff in the pumps," he told me. While on the subject of legislation, you should note that the payout limit for unfair dismissal has gone up this month from £51,700 to £52,600 while the maximum amount of a week's pay' for the purpose of calculating redundancy payment has risen from £240 to £250. The latest staff-friendly legislation will make it harder to run a tight ship. Parents with young children will have a legal right to ask for flexible working arrangements. It isn't due to happen before April 2003 but when it does, it must all be put in writing. More red tape. {{GROCER CLUB }}