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Business: Regulation

Volume 470: debated on Thursday 10 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) what estimate he has made of the financial effect on UK industry of changes in the level of the burden of regulation in each year since 2005; (176963)

(2) what estimate he has made of the likely effect on the costs of business of the Government's proposed 25 per cent. reduction in administrative burdens.

In May 2005 the Government embarked on a programme to reduce the administrative burden of regulation—the direct cost to businesses and third sector organisations of filling in forms, dealing with inspections and providing statutory information to third parties—by a net 25 per cent. by 2010. Simplification plans published in December 2007 demonstrated that Government have identified annual savings of £3.5 billion by 2010 (26 per cent. of the May 2005 baseline) with £800 million (6 per cent. of the baseline) already delivered.

Further details have been provided in the following table 1.

Table 1

Net administrative burden reduction (£ million)

2005-06

265

2006-07

647

2007-08

1,474

2008-09

2,505

2009-10

3,485

The Government have also announced gross reductions in the policy costs that arise from complying with regulations, such as paying licence fees or purchasing new equipment. Details of the annual reductions delivered to date, and forecast to May 2010, have been provided in the following table 2.

Table 2

Policy savings (£ million)

2005-06

102

2006-07

469

2007-08

807

2008-09

1,246

2009-10

1,364

More information can be found at:

http://bre.berr.gov.uk/regulation/reform/simplifying/plans.asp

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what progress has been made in developing methods to measure the impact of regulatory burden reduction in those areas identified by the National Audit Office as non-quantified irritation factors. (176966)

The Government regularly consult with business and others on the areas of regulation they believe are most burdensome and key 'irritants'. Departmental simplification plans published in December 2007 and December 2006 include details of regulations identified as such, and how these will be addressed.

BERR consults stakeholders both formally and informally in the development of policy to ensure their concerns, including regulatory irritants, are taken into account.

In addition, representatives of business, consumer and employee organisations participate in the oversight of BERR's better regulation programme as well as contributing their views to the individual projects which make up our simplification plan. This helps to ensure that we are addressing those issues that are of most concern to our stakeholders.

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what progress has been made by the Better Regulation Executive in working with industry to reduce regulatory burdens. (176967)

To ensure the Better Regulation Executive understands the regulatory issues facings those in the private, public and third sectors a visits programme has been established where staff at all levels see first hand how those being regulated are impacted by regulation and seek their ideas for change.

The Better Regulation Executive also created a website

(www.betterregulation.gov.uk)

to enable those in the; private, public or third sectors to submit ideas on how regulations, or the guidance surrounding them, could be improved. Both ideas submitted and Governments responses are posted online within 90 days.

The administrative burdens reduction programme, the drive to reduce data burdens on the public sector front line, improving inspection and enforcement and other better regulation initiatives are the result of close working between the Better Regulation Executive, Government departments, regulators and those being regulated. An update on progress on better regulation can be found at:

http://bre.berr.gov.uk/regulation/reform/simplifying/plans.asp

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many businesses his Department has consulted to identify areas for potential regulatory burden reduction in the last 12 months. (176968)

BERR conducts extensive formal and informal consultation of business across the full range of its activities.

Ministers and officials regularly meet a wide range of individual businesses and business representative organisations and the Department uses a range of consultation techniques—including business surveys and advisory groups, in addition to formal consultations—to gather the views of business including on better regulation.

Hundreds of businesses and business organisations have contributed their views in these ways to the Department in the last 12 months.

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) what steps his Department is taking to determine the effects of reductions in regulatory burdens on businesses of all sizes; (176970)

(2) by what means his Department assesses the effectiveness of reductions in regulatory burdens on businesses arising from initiatives by Government.

In May 2007 Government introduced the revised impact assessment process that aims to improve clarity and transparency of new regulations, including new requirements to summarise both the rationale for Government intervention and evidence supporting the final proposal. This has increased the focus on both the costs and benefits associated with regulation, with the strengthened ministerial declaration used to bolster the quality of the analysis further supported by improved arrangements within departments.

The revised impact assessment process has also placed greater weight on post implementation reviews, which are used to establish whether implemented regulations are having the intended effect and whether they are implementing policy objectives efficiently.

The Small Firm Impact Test (SFIT) is also a key element of this revised process. The SFIT enables policy makers to consider the impact that future policy may have on small business, and encourages examining at the earliest stages of policy design whether small businesses can be given a "complete or partial" exemption from new rules. Government are committed to creating new regulation only where it is needed, and that annual costs to micro, small and medium size businesses are quantified.

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) by what mechanisms his Department measures the effectiveness of the means by which businesses are made aware of changes to regulation; (176971)

(2) what steps his Department is considering to improve the means by which businesses are (a) made aware of and (b) advised on matters relating to changes in regulation.

On the 7 of January Government published a consultation document on a Code of Practice on Good Guidance on Regulation. The Code outlines golden rules of good guidance which set the standards businesses and third sector organisations can expect from guidance on regulations. The consultation will run until the 31 of March to give businesses and others time to give their views on what the Code should contain.

To reduce the burden of changing regulations for business, the majority of changes affecting business come into force on two dates (Common Commencement Dates). In October 2007 for the first time, simple, easy to understand guidance was produced with the help of business to support the changes taking effect and communicated to businesses via the Business Link website (www.businesslink.gov.uk) and business and professional organisations. Business can also sign up on the Business Link website for email alerts informing them of forthcoming regulations.

In addition, the Department publishes on its website an annual statement of forthcoming legislation where we provide details of all legislation for which BERR is responsible due to enter into force in the next 12 months.

htttp://www.berr.gov.uk/bbf/better-regulation/forthcoming-leg/page24668.html