Guidance to government departments on the RPC scrutiny process
The Better Regulation Framework Manual provides detailed guidance on how the better regulation framework operates. This page summarises how the RPC operates, and how government departments can interact with the RPC.
RPC opinions, i.e. the final green, amber or red rating published by the RPC, focus on the evidence presented in the impact assessment. The opinion is not, in any way, a comment on the merits of the policy proposal. Thus a red-rated ‘not-fit-for-purpose’ opinion does not mean the policy is flawed, but that the evidence as presented in the impact assessment is lacking. Decisions on whether to proceed with regulatory proposals following the publication of an RPC opinion are for ministers to take.
Preparing your impact assessments
In preparing your impact assessment, you should consider the relevant guidance and advice in the Better Regulation Framework Manual and, for impact assessments in particular, the HM Treasury Green Book.
Guidance on what the Committee considers when scrutinising impact assessments can be found here. Previous examples of interesting or complex issues can be found in the RPC case histories available from departmental better regulation units.
Before submitting an impact assessment to the RPC you can contact the RPC to discuss the case. This can be of particular benefit if the case is complex or raises challenging methodological questions, While this will not dictate the Committee’s final view, which will be based on the detail of the impact assessment itself, it can provide an additional opportunity for departments to provide further information on any potential issues.
Arrangements for any pre-submission meetings should be made through your departmental better regulation unit.
Process following submission
Once an impact assessment or triage assessment is submitted, the RPC operates an established, rigorous and consistent multi-stage assessment process.
Cases are allocated to Committee members as leads, who work with at least two members of the secretariat (one policy lead and one economist). This helps ensure that there is a clear and shared understanding of the evidence that has been submitted and how it relates to the better regulation framework. A draft opinion is developed for each case, which is then subjected to a robust internal peer review process.
Following the peer review process draft opinions are signed off by the Committee lead and the head of secretariat, prior to being circulated to the entire Committee for collective agreement. The Committee lead takes the draft opinion through the Committee review stage. Each stage of the process is intended to ensure that the proposal and the better regulation framework are considered fairly and consistently, drawing of the collective experience developed through the RPC’s consideration of nearly 2,000 submissions between 2011 and early 2014.
When considering whether an impact assessment is fit for purpose, the Committee is guided by seven ‘recommendations’. These are based on established guidance set out in the HM Treasury Green Book and the Better Regulation Framework Manual. The recommendations have been developed to provide further clarity based on common themes. The case histories collated by the RPC provide practical examples of the application of the framework and associated guidance.
Consultation and final stage proposals – full scrutiny route
The emphasis of RPC scrutiny is slightly different at consultation and final policy proposal stages. While all the recommendations should be considered relevant at both stages, the following difference in focus applies:
- At consultation stage, there is a more significant focus on the extent to which the impact assessment includes appropriate options – including, but not limited to, discussion comparing regulation and non-regulatory alternatives.
- At final stage, there is greater focus on ensuring that all costs and benefits are quantified. If any costs or benefits are judged too difficult to quantify, the reasons for this should be articulated in a clear and robust manner.
The Better Regulation Framework Manual sets out expected turnaround times for the Committee. Full route impact assessments should receive an opinion within 30 working days. For particularly complex cases this can be challenging. However, for the majority of cases, the RPC is able to respond in advance of the deadline.
Receipt of an RPC red-rated opinion
The RPC secretariat is always happy to answer questions regarding opinions that the Committee has issued. Send an e-mail and/or request a meeting. When submitting an impact assessment which has been adjusted in response to an RPC red-rated opinion, draw attention to changes made.
The complete set of published red opinions can be found here.
Receipt of an RPC amber-rated opinion
An IA that receives an amber-rated opinion is considered to be fit-for-purpose subject to the department addressing the issues raised in the opinion before consultation. On receipt of an amber-rated opinion, you should consider the points the RPC have made and make any necessary changes to the IA. When you submit your IA to the RRC, you should explain how you have addressed the issues raised in the opinion.
As with a red-rated opinion, the RPC secretariat are always happy to answer questions regarding opinions the Committee have issued and, where helpful, can meet with teams to discuss the points in detail.
Receipt of an RPC green-rated opinion
An IA that receives a green-rated opinion is considered to be fit-for-purpose. No further action is required, however, it is important to note that the opinion is in no way an endorsement of the policy itself.
The complete set of published green and amber opinions can be found here.