Press | Published on 17th May 2017

Red or blue tape – the burden of extra administration

Most of us have heard of “red tape” – actually, ignore that. We have all heard of ‘red tape’, and whether we like the phrase or not, those extra burdens imposed on business by government or regulators are a real issue.

Typically politicians attract support with calls to reduce the red tape on business and our industry is no exception. It’s a buzzword that strikes a chord and stimulates support. If we take the example of the failed Green Deal, installers rightly claimed the scheme would not work partly because of the administrative burdens it placed on them. Now I don’t want to rake over the ashes of the Green Deal, but people who do not learn from history are bound to repeat the mistakes of the past.

So with that in mind, I have been introduced to the concept of “blue tape”. This refers to extra burdens, placed on business, by other business (or their industry groups). Governments aren’t always blameless, as they often tell industry to deliver policy for them, so we shouldn’t be surprised that they do so by simply swapping red tape for blue.

Now I’m not talking just about the “Bonfield Review” but it is a good example of where industry has been asked to take the lead on an issue, and some see an opportunity to carve out advantage for themselves, rather than seeking to deliver for the public good. For some it is an accidental trap they fall into; for others a bit of an ego trip as they believe government has chosen them and for others it is simply a way of helping their organisation make money.

We need to avoid tying up industry with blue tape, which in many ways is more insidious that its red counterpart. Blue tape is badged as coming from industry, agreed by industry and therefore is not the barrier that red tape, coming from government, is. But for a small installer, the colour of the tape doesn’t matter, it’s the binding nature of having hands tied that counts. We will be keeping a very watchful eye over any attempt to tie the hands of installers using red or blue tape, and trust them to deliver the professional service they have been trained to do.