the regulations to ditch to revive the economy

Linda J. Dodson

A national shortage of hand sanitiser spurred Scottish beer maker BrewDog into action last month. Known for its craft beers and provocative marketing, the brewer turned its hand to “punk sanitiser” at its distillery in Aberdeen.

More than 50,000 units have now been donated to the NHS and local charities as hospitals run short of vital supply, BrewDog says. 

The likes of brewers and gin distillers have been allowed to produce alcohol-based sanitiser after Government eased regulations to help meet the huge demand. 

Red tape is being ripped up across the board to respond to the coronavirus crisis with speed and scale.

Restaurants that faced financial ruin have been able to transform into takeaways. Insolvency law has been amended to give businesses more time to avoid collapse. And Business Secretary Alok Sharma scrapped red tape on new suppliers and businesses producing personal protective equipment (PPE) to NHS workers.

“In terms of the public sector the changes have been quite huge. Parts of the coronavirus legislation included lifting red tape and administration on healthcare providers in the NHS,” says Victoria Hewson at the Institute of Economic Affairs. “The obvious question is why did it take a pandemic to quickly identify these bits of admin and red tape that were just holding people back.”

Some believe the red tape bonfire needs to go further to help doctors and nurses battle the virus.  Despite the recent relaxing of the rules on suppliers, the onerous procurement process has been blamed by manufacturers for slowing the delivery of PPE to the frontline of the outbreak. In addition, regulations in care homes have reportedly stopped residents from quickly accessing palliative medicines.

Campaigners on the right have long argued that ditching unnecessary and burdensome regulations could also speed up growth. 

“The UK economy has areas in which it is heavily deregulated and heavily regulated” explains Matt Kilcoyne, deputy director of the Adam Smith Institute. “There are a lot of protections that remain. The areas in which the Government can make the most difference is where it imposes the most cost.”

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