Five questions answered on David Cameron’s pledge to reduce red tape for small businesses

Which rules and regulations does Cameron intend to amend or scrap?

At a conference in March the Prime Minister will pledge to scrap or amend thousands of rules affecting small businesses. We answer five questions on the proposed changes.

Which rules and regulations does Cameron intend to amend or scrap?

At the Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) annual conference in March Cameron will pledge to make changes to more the 3000 rules, according to the BBC. These include 640 pages of cattle movement guidance, 286 pages of hedgerow regulations and 380 pages of waste management rules. House builders are set to see 100 standards applied to new homes reduced to less than 10.

How much is this estimated to save businesses?

He will tell the conference that the changes will save £850m a year. The house building reforms will save businesses £60m a year, according to the government.

Overall the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) will slash 80,000 pages of environmental guidance by March 2015 accumulating in a saving for businesses of £100m per year, according to the government.

What other benefits does the government plan to pass onto small businesses?

A package of business rate relief of £1.1bn, £100m of broadband vouchers to help businesses get online, and up to £2,000 each in growth funding for 20,000 small businesses.

What has the FSB said about these changes?

Mike Cherry, the FSB's policy chairman, speaking to the BBC said:

The government must focus on how they can support these businesses in job creation and growth while the UK's large businesses need to play their part, too, in supporting ambitious small businesses, for example, through paying their smaller suppliers promptly.

He added that the UK could learn from the US’s Small Business Administration (SBA), which he says has a large budget and long-term strategy.

The UK government should look at whether an institution built along the principles of the US SBA is needed - bringing together business support, export guidance, public procurement, and other small business functions into one place, providing a powerful small business voice within government.

What have others said?

Karen Mills, former head of the SBA and a former member of President Barack Obama's cabinet, who is also set to address the conference, told the BBC: "As governments look to the future, their plans have to be centred on growth, and the primary currency should be well-paying jobs."

She added: "When small business has a seat at the table, we can more effectively focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, which are critical components to a strong economic game plan in today's world."

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna has pledged that Labour will also create a similar body to the SBA to support small firms in their dealings with government departments.

David Cameron on a visit to a ventilation firm. Photograph: Getty Images.

Heidi Vella is a features writer for

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For the first time in my life I have a sworn enemy – and I don’t even know her name

The cyclist, though, was enraged. “THAT’S CLEVER, ISN’T IT?” she yelled. “WALKING IN THE ROAD!”

Last month, I made an enemy. I do not say this lightly, and I certainly don’t say it with pride, as a more aggressive male might. Throughout my life I have avoided confrontation with a scrupulousness that an unkind observer would call out-and-out cowardice. A waiter could bring the wrong order, cold and crawling with maggots, and in response to “How is everything?” I’d still manage a grin and a “lovely, thanks”.

On the Underground, I’m so wary of being a bad citizen that I often give up my seat to people who aren’t pregnant, aren’t significantly older than me, and in some cases are far better equipped to stand than I am. If there’s one thing I am not, it’s any sort of provocateur. And yet now this: a feud.

And I don’t even know my enemy’s name.

She was on a bike when I accidentally entered her life. I was pushing a buggy and I wandered – rashly, in her view – into her path. There’s little doubt that I was to blame: walking on the road while in charge of a minor is not something encouraged by the Highway Code. In my defence, it was a quiet, suburban street; the cyclist was the only vehicle of any kind; and I was half a street’s length away from physically colliding with her. It was the misjudgment of a sleep-deprived parent rather than an act of malice.

The cyclist, though, was enraged. “THAT’S CLEVER, ISN’T IT?” she yelled. “WALKING IN THE ROAD!”

I was stung by what someone on The Apprentice might refer to as her negative feedback, and walked on with a redoubled sense of the parental inadequacy that is my default state even at the best of times.

A sad little incident, but a one-off, you would think. Only a week later, though, I was walking in a different part of town, this time without the toddler and engrossed in my phone. Again, I accept my culpability in crossing the road without paying due attention; again, I have to point out that it was only a “close shave” in the sense that meteorites are sometimes reported to have “narrowly missed crashing into the Earth” by 50,000 miles. It might have merited, at worst, a reproving ting of the bell. Instead came a familiar voice. “IT’S YOU AGAIN!” she yelled, wrathfully.

This time the shock brought a retort out of me, probably the harshest thing I have ever shouted at a stranger: “WHY ARE YOU SO UNPLEASANT?”

None of this is X-rated stuff, but it adds up to what I can only call a vendetta – something I never expected to pick up on the way to Waitrose. So I am writing this, as much as anything, in the spirit of rapprochement. I really believe that our third meeting, whenever it comes, can be a much happier affair. People can change. Who knows: maybe I’ll even be walking on the pavement

Mark Watson is a stand-up comedian and novelist. His most recent book, Crap at the Environment, follows his own efforts to halve his carbon footprint over one year.

This article first appeared in the 20 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brothers in blood