Red-tape challenge for UK Government

A new report from the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) has highlighted a gradual improvement in Whitehall’s “red tape” culture over the first half of 2011.

The RPC said that it had given a “red flag” to 31% of the proposals it analysed between January and June—compared with the 44% rejection rate registered in its previous report. A red flag means the RPC considers the impact assessment used to support a proposal as “not fit for purpose”, which means there are significant concerns with the quality of analysis and evidence provided to support the proposal. Each proposal is rated red, amber or green.

Stephen Pattison, Director and CEO of ICC UK, said, “It’s encouraging to see that the quality of evidence used to support new regulatory proposals appears to be improving. But there is clearly a long way to go to change the culture in some Departments”.

The report also highlights concerns about the implementation of the Government’s flagship “one-in, one-out” policy, under which every new domestic regulation must be balanced by repealing existing regulations of equal cost to business. The RPC suggested that some Departments had sought to maximise the cost of the “outs” while minimising the impact of the “ins”.

Mr Pattison added, “In our view, the one-in, one-out principle has huge potential to focus Department’s thinking on the real necessity of new legislation. If used rigorously, officials should be much more wary about proposing new regulation where there isn’t a clear and evidenced reason for it”.