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Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2006, 15:57 GMT
Blair unveils '2bn red tape cut'
An estimated 14bn is spent on unecessary red tape
Unecessary red tape costs the UK 14bn a year, No 10 says
Tony Blair has outlined 500 measures to cut the 14bn cost of red tape to individuals, firms and charities.

The aim is to save up to 2bn a year from measures which include simplifying forms for planning applications and rules covering fire certificates.

Paperwork will be cut for charities, while the paper part of the UK driving licence is also heading for the chop.

Mr Blair said: "The UK is one of the best places to do business and we need to keep it that way."

The plans will also increase use of the internet to reduce the administrative costs on importers and exporters and to allow people to more easily suggest ways of cutting red tape.

'Ambitious' target

The target to cut unnecessary bureaucracy by 25% by 2010 was "ambitious", the head of the better regulation executive at the Cabinet Office, William Sergeant, said.

He said there were some items of necessary red tape that would not be abolished, such as work permits.

"Amongst that 14bn there are some costs we have no intention of doing anything about because they provide perfectly good benefits."

Departments are committed to reviewing red tape annually under the scheme.

Charities are set to benefit as the Charity Commission has said it will cut the administration burden by at least 25% over the next three years.

Annual review

Andrew Hind, chief executive of the Charity Commission, said: "Anything we can do to free them up from unnecessary bureaucracy to get on with their vital work is important and while we've already reduced the burdens on the smallest charities, our programme should ensure the sector as a whole really feels the benefit year on year."

The programme also includes a review of employment dispute rules to see if they can be streamlined.

John Cridland, deputy director general of the CBI, said of the red tape cuts for business: "The plan is an encouraging road map; delivery of it will be the real prize for business."

There have been a large number of initiatives to cut red tape, by both the last Conservative government, and the current Labour government.

Cabinet Office minister Pat McFadden acknowledged businesses might "feel they have heard it before", but he stressed it was not just "a new pledge but a detailed and specific plan of action".

For the Lib Dems, trade and industry spokesman Edward Davey said: "After nine and a half years in office it is rather late for the prime minister to don the mantle of deregulation."

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