In the wake of the horrifying Grenfell Tower disaster, people are starting to ask questions about why reports on housing safety were sat on and ignored. And the finger is being pointed towards the government’s ‘war on red tape’ – more specifically, towards a little-known policy called ‘one-in, three-out regulation’.
As anyone who’s ever worked with us can attest, my partner-in-crime Stephen Devlin and I have been banging on about this for literally years. We wrote about it in this report for the New Economics Foundation, and I also blogged about it with tedious regularity over at my old site. But it’s only since Brexit that civil society has really started to sit up and take notice of the war on our protections – particularly with the advent of the ‘Great Repeal Bill’, through which the government hopes to strip out many of those protections which derive from EU law.
So here’s a quick primer on what people are talking about when they talk about things like ‘one in, three out’. The architecture the government has put in place has three main pillars, each of which are systematically designed to prevent new laws being passed and to privilege the interests of big business over ordinary people:
‘One in, three out’ (OITO). This means that no government department can introduce a new law that imposes a cost to business unless it can find another law to repeal that cuts costs to business by at least three times that amount. With the policy having been steadily ratcheting up for 7 years now, this basically means that new laws are nigh on impossible to introduce, because there is precious little left to cut.