The Regulatory Policy Committee scrutiny process

Guidance to government departments on the RPC's scrutiny process.

The Better Regulation Framework 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 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 or analysis 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 and other RPC guidance can be found on our main guidance and case histories page.

Pre-submission meetings

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 can be made through your departmental better regulation unit or you can contact us directly here.

Consultation stage proposals vs. Final stage proposals

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:

Consultation stage proposals - informal advice or formal full scrutiny route

The RPC encourages departments and regulators to consult with the RPC as early as possible in the policy cycle, and we often have pre-submission meetings with policy teams to talk over proposals at pre-consultation stage. If policy teams decide to submit a consultation stage impact assessment to the RPC, we can give either formal advice or informal advice in the form of an opinion.

Informal advice can be given to policy teams if they have submitted a consultation stage impact assessment, this means that the opinion will have no rating and will not be published by the RPC. Informal advice will contain advice to improve the consultation stage impact assessment and advice for the succeeding final stage impact assessment. Formal opinions will have a rating and would be published by the RPC if the corresponding impact assessment is published.

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.

Final stage proposals – formal full scrutiny route only

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.

Final stage impact assessments or validation impact assessments will be formally scrutinised by the RPC. Formal opinions from the RPC will be published when the corresponding IA is published.

The guidance below will help you determine what our formal opinion ratings indicate.

For final stage IAs:

Initial review notice (IRN) Red-rating Green-rating
The IA, as first submitted to the RPC, is not fit for purpose. If major concerns over the quality of evidence and analysis are not addressed after an IRN has been issued to a department, this could result in a formal red rating. IRNs contain informal advice and are, therefore, not published. The IA is not fit for purpose following the department’s response to an IRN. The RPC retains major concerns over the quality of the evidence and analysis, and the overall quality of the IA, that need to be addressed. Red-rated opinions are formal and are published once the corresponding IA has been published. The IA is fit for purpose. The RPC has no significant concerns, or there are some minor issues which could be improved. There may be many points for improvement, which the department should consider. Green-rated opinions are formal and are published when the corresponding IA has been published.

For final stage equivalent annual net direct cost to business (EANDCB) validation IAs:

Validated Not validated
The EANDCB figure in the IA is validated. There are no significant concerns over the quality of the evidence and analysis. There is sufficient analysis to suggest that the EANDCB is accurate to within £100,000. The EANDCB figure in the IA is not validated. There are significant concerns over the quality of the evidence and analysis; calculations or data may be missing or not verifiable. There is insufficient analysis and/or the RPC believes that the EANDCB figure is inaccurate.

Process following submission

Once an impact 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.

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.

Issuing opinions

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.

The complete set of published opinions can be found here.

For further guidance, or if you have any questions, please contact us here

Published 12 June 2014
Last updated 10 September 2019 + show all updates
  1. Clarity around the informal and formal opinion routes

  2. Change of contact email and updated opinions process

  3. First published.