Liberate small charities, voluntary groups and individuals

The number and source of laws and regulations constraining the actions of individuals and voluntary groups in carrying out community and civic activities are so extensive that their repeal would be slow and tortuous. In the meantime it is becoming impossible to get people to volunteer because of the hoops they have to jump through, and the threats of criminal and civil action if they persevere; from statutes on discrimination, health and safety, protection of the vulnerable, etc and from litigation in respect of employees, clients, etc seeking compensation and damages for perceived injury.

The principle must be re-established in law that a person giving their time and skills freely for the good of the community should be protected from criminal and civil action, provided only that they have acted in good faith and without wilful negligence.

This would make it more difficult to justify legal action against volunteers, freeing them from the anxiety that by attempting to benefit others they would become victims of the legal minefield which professional and commercial agents now navigate, but without any of the resources the latter can call upon in mitigation.

Why is this idea important?

The number and source of laws and regulations constraining the actions of individuals and voluntary groups in carrying out community and civic activities are so extensive that their repeal would be slow and tortuous. In the meantime it is becoming impossible to get people to volunteer because of the hoops they have to jump through, and the threats of criminal and civil action if they persevere; from statutes on discrimination, health and safety, protection of the vulnerable, etc and from litigation in respect of employees, clients, etc seeking compensation and damages for perceived injury.

The principle must be re-established in law that a person giving their time and skills freely for the good of the community should be protected from criminal and civil action, provided only that they have acted in good faith and without wilful negligence.

This would make it more difficult to justify legal action against volunteers, freeing them from the anxiety that by attempting to benefit others they would become victims of the legal minefield which professional and commercial agents now navigate, but without any of the resources the latter can call upon in mitigation.

Give Communities the Power to Deal with their Own Food Waste

Allow communities to deal with their own food waste by removing the unnecessarily strict interpretation of the Animal By Products Regulations (ABPR) and increasing the limits of food waste which can be composted under a T23 anaerobic composting exemption.

Any community group which wishes to compost their own food waste must comply with the very strict time, temperature and particle size requirements set out in the Animal By Product Regulations. These regulations came into force in aftermath of Foot and Mouth and other crises to regulate collection, transport, storage, handling, processing and use of animal by products in EU Member States but their application in the UK has been far too restrictive.

Under the ABPR all catering waste must be composted in line with the ABPR. Catering Waste is defined  as ‘all waste food including used cooking oil originating in restaurants, catering facilities and kitchens, including central kitchens and household kitchens’ this includes waste from vegetarian kitchens, and no distinction is made for purely vegetable waste (DEFRA website). In practice this means that even a tea bag which may have theoretically touched some milk cannot be composted by community groups unless they can meet the strict guidelines set out in the ABPR.  This means that community groups wishing to compost their carrot peelings must be able to afford expensive in-vessel composting systems and the associated testing and recording.

 Those community groups which do manage to meet the requirements of the ABPR are then only allowed 10 tonnes of food waste on site at anyone time under a free exemption. As the quantities most community groups are processing are less than is financially sustainable for PAS100 accreditation the whole of the material – finished compost of excellent quality included is classed legally as food waste and thus limited to 10 tonnes on site at anyone time. Thus the free exemption treats normal kitchen waste in the same way as animal tissue waste (including blood and carcasses!). 

If groups cannot meet  these limits they must apply for a Standard Permit or Bespoke Permit. These permits were developed with large scale commercial composters in mind and cost thousands of pounds. As most community groups operate on tiny budgets, relying on the good will of volunteers these costs simply cannot be meet. 

Why is this idea important?

Allow communities to deal with their own food waste by removing the unnecessarily strict interpretation of the Animal By Products Regulations (ABPR) and increasing the limits of food waste which can be composted under a T23 anaerobic composting exemption.

Any community group which wishes to compost their own food waste must comply with the very strict time, temperature and particle size requirements set out in the Animal By Product Regulations. These regulations came into force in aftermath of Foot and Mouth and other crises to regulate collection, transport, storage, handling, processing and use of animal by products in EU Member States but their application in the UK has been far too restrictive.

Under the ABPR all catering waste must be composted in line with the ABPR. Catering Waste is defined  as ‘all waste food including used cooking oil originating in restaurants, catering facilities and kitchens, including central kitchens and household kitchens’ this includes waste from vegetarian kitchens, and no distinction is made for purely vegetable waste (DEFRA website). In practice this means that even a tea bag which may have theoretically touched some milk cannot be composted by community groups unless they can meet the strict guidelines set out in the ABPR.  This means that community groups wishing to compost their carrot peelings must be able to afford expensive in-vessel composting systems and the associated testing and recording.

 Those community groups which do manage to meet the requirements of the ABPR are then only allowed 10 tonnes of food waste on site at anyone time under a free exemption. As the quantities most community groups are processing are less than is financially sustainable for PAS100 accreditation the whole of the material – finished compost of excellent quality included is classed legally as food waste and thus limited to 10 tonnes on site at anyone time. Thus the free exemption treats normal kitchen waste in the same way as animal tissue waste (including blood and carcasses!). 

If groups cannot meet  these limits they must apply for a Standard Permit or Bespoke Permit. These permits were developed with large scale commercial composters in mind and cost thousands of pounds. As most community groups operate on tiny budgets, relying on the good will of volunteers these costs simply cannot be meet. 

Funding of 3rd Sector umbrella orgs

It would be good to see central government understanding and committing to the 3rd sector umbrella organisations and the work that they do.  Funding comes in short/small amounts that last between 2 and 5 years.

When the end of the project comes you are left attempting to find further funding or taking a backward step.  You build something up  and then due to funding or rather lack of funding it then all comes back to where you were before.

Why is this idea important?

It would be good to see central government understanding and committing to the 3rd sector umbrella organisations and the work that they do.  Funding comes in short/small amounts that last between 2 and 5 years.

When the end of the project comes you are left attempting to find further funding or taking a backward step.  You build something up  and then due to funding or rather lack of funding it then all comes back to where you were before.

Third Sector Funding

Ensure that Pubic Sector funding to Third Sector organisations is paid up-front rather than in arrears. A large number of Third Sector organisations experience serious cashflow problems when their Public Sector funding is paid either monthly, quarterly (or sometimes even longer in arrears). After all, when making any purchase or paying for any service we normally expect to pay for it at the time rather than months later. Why should funding given to purchase Third Sector organisations services be treated any differently?

Why is this idea important?

Ensure that Pubic Sector funding to Third Sector organisations is paid up-front rather than in arrears. A large number of Third Sector organisations experience serious cashflow problems when their Public Sector funding is paid either monthly, quarterly (or sometimes even longer in arrears). After all, when making any purchase or paying for any service we normally expect to pay for it at the time rather than months later. Why should funding given to purchase Third Sector organisations services be treated any differently?

Great Repeal Bill – Part 1

 

It is an extremely promising and most welcome initiative for the Coalition government to take the matter of excessive regulation seriously and enlist and trust citizens to help define a future legislative programme, and offer views on how the role of the state might be reduced.

I propose a Great Reform Bill to remove the following pieces of legislation or regulations from the statute book, initially consisting of repealing of reforming the following pieces of legislation:

  • The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. Excessive health and safety legislation has replaced common sense and the sheer volume and proliferation of rules and regulations stifles innovation and swamps small businesses or charitable organisations in the Third Sector. It is time for a thorough review of all aspects of this act as well as the numerous offshoot pieces of legislation, which create unnecessary jobs for the HSE.
  • Construction Design & Management Regulations 2007 (CDM). These regulations do not apply to small domestic projects where statistically most construction deaths or accidents occur. Where CDM does apply eg on major commercial projects, costs have increased typically by 1% due to the fees for a new breed of professional, the Planning Coordinator, whose sole task is to prepare reams of risk assessments and health and safety documentation. Yet again this role has done little to reduce construction-related deaths or injuries.
  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This act forces many small businesses to prepare significant amounts of paperwork, and carry out detailed risk assessments for audit and inspection, and allows Fire Authorities to close businesses without appeal, yet does nothing to reduce the risk of fire.
  • Regional Development Agencies Act 1998. RDAs and Government Offices of the Regions should be abolished as they have failed to fulfil heir remit but at considerable expense to the public purse and merely duplicate the functions of national and county government. RDAs were established despite public antipathy and rejection in a referendum in North East England.
  • The Police Act 1997, specifically with regard to the new Criminal Records Bureau and recently created Independent Safeguarding Authority, both of which should be abolished.
  • Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. There is an urgent need to review existing asbestos legislation to take account of the diverse range of asbestos-containing products, some of which are much more harmful than others.
  • Identity Cards Act 2006. A wholly undemocratic act worthy of a fascist state that will do nothing to make the nation more secure.
  • Firearms Act 1998. Introduced as a knee jerk reaction to the Dunblane tragedy but has done nothing to reduce gun crime and instead criminalises those who take part in sport shooting.
  • Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005. Specifically with regard to the impact of this piece of regulation on music venues.
  • Regulation of Investigatory Powers ACT 2000. This act provides a legal framework that allows authorities to snoop and spy on citizens and is grossly undemocratic. Abolish The Office of Surveillance Commissioners.
  • The Local Government Act 2000. Abolish Standards for England.
  • Part P Building Regulations 2000, which came into force in 2005 and imposes an undue cost burden on consumers, who are obliged to employ ‘competent’ trained electricians to carry out even the most modest alterations to electrical circuits.
  • Licensing Act 2003.
  • Human Rights Act 1998. Withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • The Dangerous Dogs Act 1989, arguably one of the most hasty and ill-considered pieces of legislation of all time.

Why is this idea important?

 

It is an extremely promising and most welcome initiative for the Coalition government to take the matter of excessive regulation seriously and enlist and trust citizens to help define a future legislative programme, and offer views on how the role of the state might be reduced.

I propose a Great Reform Bill to remove the following pieces of legislation or regulations from the statute book, initially consisting of repealing of reforming the following pieces of legislation:

  • The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. Excessive health and safety legislation has replaced common sense and the sheer volume and proliferation of rules and regulations stifles innovation and swamps small businesses or charitable organisations in the Third Sector. It is time for a thorough review of all aspects of this act as well as the numerous offshoot pieces of legislation, which create unnecessary jobs for the HSE.
  • Construction Design & Management Regulations 2007 (CDM). These regulations do not apply to small domestic projects where statistically most construction deaths or accidents occur. Where CDM does apply eg on major commercial projects, costs have increased typically by 1% due to the fees for a new breed of professional, the Planning Coordinator, whose sole task is to prepare reams of risk assessments and health and safety documentation. Yet again this role has done little to reduce construction-related deaths or injuries.
  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This act forces many small businesses to prepare significant amounts of paperwork, and carry out detailed risk assessments for audit and inspection, and allows Fire Authorities to close businesses without appeal, yet does nothing to reduce the risk of fire.
  • Regional Development Agencies Act 1998. RDAs and Government Offices of the Regions should be abolished as they have failed to fulfil heir remit but at considerable expense to the public purse and merely duplicate the functions of national and county government. RDAs were established despite public antipathy and rejection in a referendum in North East England.
  • The Police Act 1997, specifically with regard to the new Criminal Records Bureau and recently created Independent Safeguarding Authority, both of which should be abolished.
  • Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. There is an urgent need to review existing asbestos legislation to take account of the diverse range of asbestos-containing products, some of which are much more harmful than others.
  • Identity Cards Act 2006. A wholly undemocratic act worthy of a fascist state that will do nothing to make the nation more secure.
  • Firearms Act 1998. Introduced as a knee jerk reaction to the Dunblane tragedy but has done nothing to reduce gun crime and instead criminalises those who take part in sport shooting.
  • Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005. Specifically with regard to the impact of this piece of regulation on music venues.
  • Regulation of Investigatory Powers ACT 2000. This act provides a legal framework that allows authorities to snoop and spy on citizens and is grossly undemocratic. Abolish The Office of Surveillance Commissioners.
  • The Local Government Act 2000. Abolish Standards for England.
  • Part P Building Regulations 2000, which came into force in 2005 and imposes an undue cost burden on consumers, who are obliged to employ ‘competent’ trained electricians to carry out even the most modest alterations to electrical circuits.
  • Licensing Act 2003.
  • Human Rights Act 1998. Withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • The Dangerous Dogs Act 1989, arguably one of the most hasty and ill-considered pieces of legislation of all time.

Charity-reducing cost and control

The new charities act has changed the role of the charity commissioners. Under the old act, the commissioners prevented abuse and ensured that charities stuck to doing what they were set up to do. The new act requires the commissioners to interfere in how charities are run. The problem with this is essentially one of control- surely the point of a vibrant third sector is so that it will do things differenently from government? Imposing targets and social policy aims on charities will merely make them an extension of government. It also adds to the costs and complexity of running a charity. Why not simply repeal the new act?

Why is this idea important?

The new charities act has changed the role of the charity commissioners. Under the old act, the commissioners prevented abuse and ensured that charities stuck to doing what they were set up to do. The new act requires the commissioners to interfere in how charities are run. The problem with this is essentially one of control- surely the point of a vibrant third sector is so that it will do things differenently from government? Imposing targets and social policy aims on charities will merely make them an extension of government. It also adds to the costs and complexity of running a charity. Why not simply repeal the new act?