Press release

Government asks business to help improve regulators’ appeals processes

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Consultation invites businesses to help shape potential legislation to make regulators’ appeals and complaints processes more responsive.

Business Minister Michael Fallon today (26 March 2014) invited businesses to help shape government plans for potential legislation to make regulators’ appeals and complaints processes more responsive to their needs.

The government proposes to appoint Small Business Appeals champions who would work within each non-economic regulator, scrutinise their appeals and complaints processes, and make public recommendations for their improvement.

The consultation launched today (26 March 2014) asks businesses to comment on these proposals - which will be of particular value to small firms which find complex or expensive appeals processes problematic.

Regulators would be expected to comply with the Small Business Champions’ recommendations or explain why this is not possible or desirable.

Business Minister Michael Fallon said:

Regulators play an essential role, but they need to get better at promoting, not obstructing, the interests of law-abiding enterprises. I want the voice of those least able to operate complex or expensive appeals systems to be at the heart of the reform process.

The consultation will close on 22 April 2014. It is a response to the findings of the Focus on Enforcement Appeals Review and delivers 1 of the pledges from Small Business: GREAT Ambition - the government’s commitment to help make it easier for small businesses to grow. For more information visit: discuss.bis.gov.uk/focusonenforcement

Notes to Editors

1.Government action on red tape – including through the Red Tape Challenge and tough Whitehall rules that demand all new regulation is offset by ambitious cuts in costs to business - is already saving business over £1.2 billion per annum. Michael Fallon has pledged to build on this success by re-doubling government efforts to reduce the burdens placed on business by unnecessary bureaucracy, including from Europe.

2.Focus on Enforcement reviews examine how regulation is delivered – whether through inspections, advice or enforcement – rather than focusing on the design or the regulations themselves.

3.In the 2012 Autumn Statement the government announced its intention to launch an Appeals Focus on Enforcement Review to follow up concerns raised by business in previous reviews about the effectiveness of regulators’ appeals and complaints processes and seek further evidence. Work to respond to the findings of this review has culminated in today’s announcement. Details of the Review’s findings are set out in the consultation document published today but in brief concerns raised were over:

  • whether there is always a clear and impartial route to appeal or complain
  • whether those who consider appeals or complaints have sufficient operational independence
  • whether options for appeal or complaint are always explained clearly to businesses
  • whether regulators publish adequate data on appeals and complaints
  • whether there is, or should be, an opportunity for businesses to ask the regulator for a “second opinion” before considering whether to make a formal appeal or complaint
  • whether terminology distinguishing appeals and complaints is comprehensible

4.Government announced its intention to consult on a proposal to create in law and appoint within each non-economic regulator an independent Small Business Appeals Champion in Small Business: GREAT Ambition, published in December 2013. Small Business: GREAT Ambition is the government’s commitment to help make it easier for small businesses to grow.

5.The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.