Red Tape Initiative

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Formation19 April 2017
FounderOliver Letwin

Launching the Red Tape Initiative on 19 April 2017, Chair of the Management Board Sir Oliver Letwin said:

“We need to grasp the opportunities that Brexit will give us to cut red tape in sensible ways. And we mustn’t lose any time doing that. So the point of the Red Tape Initiative is to identify ‘early wins’ that can command cross-party support in both Houses of Parliament immediately after we leave the EU.”[1]

The Red Tape Initiative is said to be independent of any political party and will run until 2020.[2]

RTI Members

Other Management Board Members are Kate Rock, Jonathan Marland and Nick Tyrone (Director-General). The RTI’s Advisory Board includes former cabinet secretary Lord Butler, David Laws – Letwin’s Lib Dem counterpart in the Cabinet Office during the coalition government, former Labour minister Liam Byrne, Telegraph journalist Charles Moore, former Bank of England deputy governor Paul Tucker, and senior businessman and former Conservative MP Archie Norman, who is also the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s lead non-executive director.

Experts and supporters

The group will work with experts from a range of industries to identify changes that could be made to specific areas of EU laws to boost jobs and businesses. It will be supported by business groups CBI, the British Chambers of Commerce, Institute of Directors and the Small Business Federation as well as the Trades Union Congress.

Greg Clark, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary, has written to the RTI, welcoming its creation and offering the cooperation of his officials.

Other MPs who are supporting the initiative include former Tory ministers Michael Gove and Theresa Villiers, Labour’s Frank Field and Stephen Timms and Lib Dem Jo Swinson.[3]

Grenfell Tower fire

On 22 June 2017, the Guardian reported that a meeting of the RTI panel looked at EU fire safety rules on morning of Grenfell Tower fire:

A government-supported initiative to cut red tape considered a push to dismantle EU regulations on the fire safety of cladding and other construction materials in the weeks before the Grenfell Tower fire.

A document obtained by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, and seen by the Guardian, singled out EU Regulation 305/2011 which covers the safety and efficacy of construction materials as among the first to target for dismantling. Among the products covered in the EU regulation is cladding.

The document was produced on 10 May 2017 for the Red Tape Initiative, a body supported by the government, to “seize the opportunities” of Brexit to cut red tape. Entitled "The EU’s Impact on the UK Housing and Construction Industry", it picks out the Construction Products Regulation (EU 305/2011) as “red tape folly” which is “expensive and burdensome for small businesses”.

The regulation aims to harmonise the quality of construction materials, including external cladding, across the EU, to make sure they are safe and fit for use.

The CPR states: “The construction works must be designed and built in such a way that in the event of an outbreak of fire the generation and spread of fire and smoke within the construction works are limited.”[4]


Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Here’s why the Grenfell inquiry will be a stitch-upArticle5 July 2017George MonbiotOn 14 June 2017, while the Grenfell Tower was smouldering, a meeting of the Red Tape Initiative panel decided that "on this occasion" they would not recommend the removal of the EU Construction Products Regulation, which seeks to protect people from fire, and restricts the kind of cladding that can be used.
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