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 Nridigital.com

John Moore
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The man who created the fake Tube sign explains why he did it

"We need to consider the fact that fake news isn't always fake news at the source," says John Moore.

"I wrote that at 8 o'clock on the evening and before midday the next day it had been read out in the Houses of Parliament."

John Moore, a 44-year-old doctor from Windsor, is describing the whirlwind process by which his social media response to Wednesday's Westminster attack became national news.

Moore used a Tube-sign generator on the evening after the attack to create a sign on a TfL Service Announcement board that read: "All terrorists are politely reminded that THIS IS LONDON and whatever you do to us we will drink tea and jolly well carry on thank you." Within three hours, it had just fifty shares. By the morning, it had accumulated 200. Yet by the afternoon, over 30,000 people had shared Moore's post, which was then read aloud on BBC Radio 4 and called a "wonderful tribute" by prime minister Theresa May, who at the time believed it was a genuine Underground sign. 

"I think you have to be very mindful of how powerful the internet is," says Moore, whose viral post was quickly debunked by social media users and then national newspapers such as the Guardian and the Sun. On Thursday, the online world split into two camps: those spreading the word that the sign was "fake news" and urging people not to share it, and those who said that it didn't matter that it was fake - the sentiment was what was important. 

Moore agrees with the latter camp. "I never claimed it was a real tube sign, I never claimed that at all," he says. "In my opinion the only fake news about that sign is that it has been reported as fake news. It was literally just how I was feeling at the time."

Moore was motivated to create and post the sign when he was struck by the "very British response" to the Westminster attack. "There was no sort of knee-jerk Islamaphobia, there was no dramatisation, it was all pretty much, I thought, very calm reporting," he says. "So my initial thought at the time was just a bit of pride in how London had reacted really." Though he saw other, real Tube signs online, he wanted to create his own in order to create a tribute that specifically epitomised the "very London" response. 

Yet though Moore insists he never claimed the sign was real, his caption on the image - which now has 100,800 shares - is arguably misleading. "Quintessentially British..." Moore wrote on his Facebook post, and agrees now that this was ambiguous. "It was meant to relate to the reaction that I saw in London in that day which I just thought was very calm and measured. What the sign was trying to do was capture the spirit I'd seen, so that's what I was actually talking about."

Not only did Moore not mean to mislead, he is actually shocked that anyone thought the sign was real. 

"I'm reasonably digitally savvy and I was extremely shocked that anyone thought it was real," he says, explaining that he thought everyone would be able to spot a fake after a "You ain't no muslim bruv" sign went viral after the Leytonstone Tube attack in 2015. "I thought this is an internet meme that people know isn't true and it's fine to do because this is a digital thing in a digital world."

Yet despite his intentions, Moore's sign has become the centre of debate about whether "nice" fake news is as problematic as that which was notoriously spread during the 2016 United States Presidential elections. Though Moore can understand this perspective, he ultimately feels as though the sentiment behind the sign makes it acceptable. 

"I use the word fake in inverted commas because I think fake implies the intention to deceive and there wasn't [any]... I think if the sentiment is ok then I think it is ok. I think if you were trying to be divisive and you were trying to stir up controversy or influence people's behaviour then perhaps I wouldn't have chosen that forum but I think when you're only expressing your own emotion, I think it's ok.

"The fact that it became so-called fake news was down to other people's interpretation and not down to the actual intention... So in many interesting ways you can see that fake news doesn't even have to originate from the source of the news."

Though Moore was initially "extremely shocked" at the reponse to his post, he says that on reflection he is "pretty proud". 

"I'm glad that other people, even the powers that be, found it an appropriate phrase to use," he says. "I also think social media is often denigrated as a source of evil and bad things in the world, but on occasion I think it can be used for very positive things. I think the vast majority of people who shared my post and liked my post have actually found the phrase and the sentiment useful to them, so I think we have to give social media a fair judgement at times and respect the fact it can be a source for good."

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.