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Friday, October 14, 2011

The dead cold hand of the Treasury

Every Government Minister complains about it of course, regardless of political affiliation, but love it or hate it, there is no getting away from the restraining influence of the Treasury on Government policy.

The latest Minister to complain is Vince Cable who, according to the Financial Times is finding that his attempt to whittle away at the regulatory burden on business is being frustrated by the Treasury’s unwillingness to take part in his “red tape challenge”.

The paper says that the red tape challenge was launched as an attempt to begin whittling down the 21,000 regulations on the statute books for Britain’s businesses by asking the public to tell the government which red tape they wanted to see dropped. However:

Officials in the two departments are at loggerheads over the Treasury’s refusal to allow the business department to pore over the regulatory burden being caused by tax regulation. Treasury mandarins say they are more than capable of dealing with tax issues through the Office of Tax Simplification .

“The Treasury is not in the red tape challenge because it is too important,” said one business department official. “But the department is a big barrier to cutting regulation because there are quite a lot of tax regulations.

“The Treasury thinks the OTS should do this, but you have to see red tape holistically. The Cabinet Office is pushing other departments to take part and the Treasury should be doing it too.”

Treasury spokespeople of course deny that they are not cooperating but whatever the truth this little row does nothing to promote the idea of a united government working to deliver a better environment in which business can grow.
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