Chancellor Gordon Brown has revealed a plan to slash red tape for UK businesses to allow greater flexibility, in a move that may help alleviate fears over stifling EU bureaucracy.

Brown said during a budget speech that he was axing plans to force larger businesses to report on social and environmental policies.

He said: "Today the enterprise challenge is to enhance the flexibility needed for a successful economy and tackle the regulatory concerns all industrial economies face while securing the standards required in a successful society."

Brown promised that regulatory businesses would be streamlined and reduced, with a single body overseeing consumer and trading standards. He also pledged less check-ups for businesses that adhere to legislation.

Commenting on the decision, British Retail Consortium director general Kevin Hawkins said: "The BRC welcomes the Government's renewed commitment to cutting red tape, reducing the burden of regulation and ending the practice of gold-plating EU Regulations and Directives.

"Too often retailers are the victims of excessive regulation and onerous administration and this is damaging business. We now call on the Government to turn words into action and to fully implement their promises across all government departments without exception."