The first ever study into the deregulatory efforts of both Conservative and Labour governments over the last 20 years has uncovered a lamentable failure to follow through announcements and initiatives with action that actually delivers a lower regulatory burden for business.Deregulation or Déjà vu? UK Deregulation Initiatives 1987/2006, is a new paper by Tim Ambler of the London Business School and Francis Chittenden of the Manchester Business School. The report has been published by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC):

The key findings in this exposé of inaction are:

· Both Conservative and Labour administrations approach deregulation with apparent enthusiasm, learn little or nothing from previous efforts and have little if anything to show from each initiative.

· There have been 15 deregulation initiatives since 1985: the 1995, 2001 & 2006 Acts are the major ones.

· 1994 Act identified 605 "proposals for reform" yet produced only 26 deregulations over the next four years. On closer study, the authors explain the real number may actually be less than 10

· 2001 Act produced 63 deregulatory opportunities yet only 27 deregulations were introduced over the next four years. At the same time business was hit by over 600 new regulations.

· After reviewing the history, the authors conclude that the Regulatory Reform Act 2006 is likely to produce the same results as Whitehall has already started to undermine the initiative by manipulating targets and double-counting.

· The authors estimate that halving existing business regulation could release £50bn per annum of wealth into the UK economy (i.e. about £700 per person in the UK per year).

The authors of this report also produce the annual Burdens Barometer on behalf of the BCC. The 2006 Barometer show the cost to British Business to be over £50 billion.

Sally Low, Head of Policy and External Affairs at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

"This report is a damning indictment of both Labour and Conservative administrations attempts to ease the regulatory burden on business. Announcements and initiatives have not been followed through with action. Instead it appears yet more red tape has been foisted upon business, hindering the competitiveness of the UK in the global economy.

"A survey of leading businesses at Davos listed red tape as the major threat to business in 2007. The Government must ensure that it learns from previous failures and actually delivers on reductions in red tape."

One of the authors, Tim Ambler, senior fellow at London Business School, said:

"This paper is a tale of bureaucratic incompetence. Business is being fobbed off with good intentions and no performance."