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INDEPENDENT WATCHDOG URGES GOVERNMENT TO HOLD FIRM ON ITS COMMITMENTS TO BETTER REGULATIONBack

RPCThe Regulatory Policy Committee publishes its report on the nearly 400 proposed changes in law that it reviewed in 2013 affecting businesses, charities and community groups.

Today the Regulatory Policy Committee published its report on the nearly 400 proposed changes in law that it reviewed in 2013 affecting businesses, charities and community groups. Half of these reached the final stage of the law-making process last year.

• 76 measures reviewed by the committee reduced red tape for business and civil society organisations, reducing costs by over £274 million each year.
• 126 measures reviewed by the committee increased the burden of regulation on business and civil society organisations, with those originating from Westminster costing business £128 million each year, and those originating from Brussels costing £1.3 billion each year.

The Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) is the Government’s independent body set up to review the evidence and validate the costs for all regulatory changes affecting businesses and civil society organisations.

The Committee’s report comes at an important time for the better regulation agenda, with the final year of the Parliament fast approaching. The 2013 report finds:

1. A drop in the overall quality of the evidence base for regulatory changes, the first time performance has dropped since the RPC was established. The RPC rated 75% of impact assessments fit for purpose in 2013, compared with 81% in 2012.

2. Review by the RPC improved the estimates of the costs and savings of regulatory proposals by £112 million each year. This takes the total difference between the cost estimates initially submitted by departments and the values finally validated by the RPC to over £475 million each year since the beginning of 2011. The estimated cost savings from reductions in red tape brought in during this Parliament would be £1.6 billion each year rather than the £1.2 billion each year validated by the RPC.

3. 10 regulatory changes still have not yet had their impacts validated by the RPC. These include four outstanding measures introduced in 2011 and 2012: restrictions on Tiers 1 and 2 migrants, restrictions on student migrants, audit exemption for small-sized firms, and the Energy Company Obligation on energy efficiency. Since the start of 2013, there have been two additional regulatory measures (metal theft controls and pre-planning consultation) and seven deregulatory measures introduced prior to RPC validation.

4. An increase in the number of regulatory proposals skipping stages of scrutiny. In four cases, the RPC published its opinions because the Department had consulted on new regulations despite the RPC rating the underlying evidence base as not fit for purpose. Three of these generated significant interest in parliamentary debates and public discussion of the proposals: trade union registers of members, biodiversity offsetting, and capping the charges in auto-enrolment pension schemes.

Michael Gibbons, Chair of the Regulatory Policy Committee, said:

The final year of this Parliament will be key a test for whether the Government has reduced the burden of red tape on business or not. 2013 saw some improvements in the framework for reporting on regulatory changes, particularly around greater transparency and visibility of the impacts of changes in law.

The RPC has worked hard to make access to our scrutiny of impact assessments easier for businesses, charities and communities. I have been pleased to see this translate into the Committee’s work discussed in some of the major policy debates on new legislation.

Unfortunately there has been a disappointing reduction in the overall quality of the evidence base underpinning changes in law. This is the first time we have recorded a drop of this nature.

We have also seen an increasing number of policy measures avoiding some of the important checks that this Government put in place to ensure that regulations imposing a new burden are subject to proper scrutiny. For the Government to realise its pledge to reach the end of this Parliament with the burden of regulation lower than at the start, all relevant regulations should have their costs validated by the RPC.

I expect 2014 to be a challenging, exciting and busy year, as we move towards the end of the Parliament, and as external organisations make greater use of the work of the RPC.

Regulatory Policy Committee scrutiny in 2013: Improving the evidence base for regulation

(Source: Gov.UK)

Posted by Sue Robinson on 07/03/2014