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Government tackles red tape head on with package of measures

A review of the way that appeals are handled by regulators launched today is the first stage of a new wave of bureaucracy busting measures announced…

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A review of the way that appeals are handled by regulators launched today is the first stage of a new wave of bureaucracy busting measures announced by the government, Business Minister Michael Fallon confirmed today.

Businesses and other interested parties will have a chance to take part in a review of the effectiveness of appeals mechanisms operated by national and local regulators. The Focus on Enforcement Appeals Review will give those affected the opportunity to talk about their experiences of formal and informal appeals processes, and suggest how they could be made to work more effectively, providing a swifter route to resolution and better industry understanding.

The review will also gather examples of approaches that have successfully helped businesses understand regulators’ decisions and meet their obligations more effectively.

Business Minister Michael Fallon said:

We have started a bonfire of excessive red tape, but I know that it is just as important that we look at the way that regulations are enforced.

There is room for far more effective enforcement which reduces the burden on business which stick to the rules. Despite best efforts, sometimes things can go wrong – that has become clear from previous Focus on Enforcement Reviews. So I want to hear views on how we can improve the way appeals currently work.

Greater clarity and trust between regulators and businesses will lead to better enforcement of the law and higher standards across the board.

The latest review follows a package of new measures announced at the Autumn Statement to tackle systemic problems with the way regulations are enforced and cut the unnecessary red tape and burdens that companies have to deal with.

These include:

  • a consultation on placing a legislative duty on non-economic regulators to have regard to growth and take into account the economic impacts of their actions
  • a new accounting system for regulators, so that in future regulators will have to publish impact assessments for prior consultation, scrutiny and challenge by industry, of the impacts of all changes in their activities that have a significant (positive and negative) financial impact on business
  • a consultation on an amended Regulators’ Compliance Code to ensure regulators are internally and geographically consistent, give consideration to earned recognition, and offer minimum service standards to those they regulate
  • government action to ensure regulators are transparent about the fees they charge and bear down on their costs and improve their efficiency

Also today, as part of the package the government announced plans to cut bureaucracy by widening the range of regulations included in the Primary Authority scheme. The plans would see the scheme covering age-related sales of gambling, the Housing Health and Safety Rating system for assessing potential hazards in dwellings, sun-bed tanning and Welsh regulations for single-use carrier bag charging.

Business and Enterprise Minister Michael Fallon added:

Primary Authority partnerships are reducing regulatory burdens for companies and allowing them to grow. It’s now time to extend the scope of the scheme to streamline the way regulators work with businesses, improve protections to the public and help local authorities to target their resources against rogue traders.

Major business groups such as the CBI, British Retail Consortium and FSB are strongly in favour of Primary Authority and of its extension. The Trading Standards Institute and Chartered Institute of Environmental Health are also in favour.

Notes to Editors:

  1. Evidence arising from sector-specific Focus on Enforcement reviews has already indicated that businesses have concerns about how current appeals systems operate. These include confusing or multiple appeals mechanisms lack of transparency and in some cases resolution taking excessively long periods of time.
  2. The forthcoming review will invite evidence from all sectors of the economy and any regulatory regime. Appeals mechanisms for economic regulators are not included in the scope of this review. Interested parties can participate in the review of appeals at:
  3. Last year at Budget, the government announced a new approach to cutting red tape, looking at how rules are enforced, rather than the rules themselves. A series of Focus on Enforcement Reviews have shown that in addition to sector-specific issues, there are also systemic enforcement issues limiting industry that affect most if not all sectors. So, rather than tackling systemic issues case by case, the Government’s Autumn Statement package aims to change the system, creating greater clarity and fairness for businesses while ensuring regulators focus their resources where they are needed most.
  4. The Primary Authority Scheme is run by the Better Regulation Delivery Office, an independent unit within the Business Innovation and Skills Department (BIS). See for more information.
  5. There are currently 602 businesses and 93 local authorities involved in Primary Authority partnerships, covering over 58,000 premises and over 1.57 million employees.
  6. Extending the scope of the scheme, or the list of regulations which can be covered by partnerships, can be achieved by secondary legislation. The consultation announced today runs until 24 January 2013 to allow feedback from stakeholders before secondary legislation is introduced into Parliament.
  7. The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a risk-based evaluation tool to help local authorities identify and protect against potential risks and hazards to health and safety from any deficiencies identified in dwellings. It was introduced under the Housing Act 2004 and applies to residential properties in England and Wales.
  8. 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 four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), 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.
  9. 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.
Published 14 December 2012