Deregulation Target set at Zero
2021 began with the government simultaneously tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and the problems caused by the end of the Brexit transition period. It was perhaps therefore no surprise that it announced that it did not intend to cut overall regulatory burdens on business over the current parliament, pending a review.
Request for Ideas
The Prime Minister was reported to have asked business leaders, in a conference call, for deregulatory suggestions that could be presented as a Brexit dividend. "A government source" talked about "the UK becoming a low tax, low regulation regime like Singapore". Other ministers were also reported to have made similar requests in the first months of 2021. Those not involved were half-amused, half-angry that a government that had championed the benefits of Brexit could not immediately identify what it wanted to do with its new freedom. Giles Wilkes encapsulated many observers' reactions in these tweets:
It's always the same. Someone chunters on about how what we need for growth is regulatory change. But they're not sure what. So they issue a plea to business/the public. It's like asking someone else to provide the punchline to your own stupid joke
My *first day* as a spad, a well known business organisation slaps down on my desk a list of 100 regulatory problems from members. Hooray, I think: actual content. Leafing through - about 98 were variants on "I find it tiresome having to make arrangements for pregnant staff"
Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform
The above named taskforce, chaired by Iain Duncan Smith, was posed pretty much the same question when it was announced in February 2021, and asked to report in April.
Better Regulation Committee
And it was reported that Chancellor Rishi Sunak was to chair a new Cabinet Committee to 'help stimulate growth, innovation and competition in the UK, while attracting new investment, enabling businesses to grow dynamically, and maintaining the high standards the UK has consistently championed in areas like workers’ rights'.
Brexit Opportunities Unit
It was announced in May 2021 that Cabinet Office minister Lord (David) Frost, who had negotiated the Brexit agreement, was recruiting the Head of new Cabinet Office unit to explore 'Brexit opportunities' particularly around shedding EU regulations.