Government to overhaul health and safety to ensure children's play areas are more exciting.

The move is among the recommendations made in Lord Young's review of health and safety regulations and Britain's 'compensation culture'.

The report says that too often health and safety laws are misinterpreted when designing play areas, making them "uninspiring play spaces that do not enable children to experience risk".

Lord Young wants to replace the current system of risk assessment with one of "risk-benefit assessment", whereby the positive impacts of adventurous play equipment are weighed up against potential risks.

The report says: "Such play is vital for a child's development and should not be sacrificed to the cause of overzealous and disproportionate risk assessments."

Play consultant Tim Gill welcomed the change: "It is crucial that there is a balanced approach to designing a play area that ensures children are safe, while being challenged and offered something adventurous."

All of Lord Young's recommendations have been backed by the government. This also includes creating a single consent form for school trips to reduce the bureaucracy involved.

Councillor Paul Bettison, chairman of the local government regulation at the Local Government Group said: "Anything that can simplify the way in which parents can agree to their children taking part and enjoying such visits is good news for all concerned."

Health and safety laws will also be reviewed to ensure that workplace rules are separated from play and leisure.

Dr Ute Navidi, chief executive of London Play said: "This legal change is vital. The legislation as it is, is too focused on health and safety at work and is inappropriate for play areas."

Another change is the scrapping of the Adventure Activities Licensing Scheme. This applies to companies running caving, climbing and some types of trekking and water sports activities out of school. The £715 licence will be replaced with a code of practice overseen by the Health and Safety Executive.

Lord Young says that the licence was a "disincentive to new entrants to the adventure activity market, especially to small companies".

In backing the report Prime Minister David Cameron said: "All too often good, straightforward legislation designed to protect people from major hazards has been extended inappropriately to cover every walk of life, no matter how low the risk."

Liz Morrison Communications Manager Vetting & Safeguarding Policy Unit

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