Regulators to treat businesses as 'customers' not culprits
The Government wants businesses to be treated as customers rather than culprits when it comes to the enforcement of regulations and has put forward a number of proposals in response to its recent Transforming Regulatory Enforcement consultation, which set out how the Government wanted a more mature and open relationship with businesses in relation to regulations.
There will be a full scale review of UK regulatory bodies and one of the key moves could be to cut the number of inspections for compliant firms.
A Government statement says its proposals include:
- a review of all regulators, not just to examine the case for continued existence, but to make sure each one is making the fullest possible use of alternatives to conventional enforcement methods, working with business and others and reducing state activity wherever possible.
- making greater use of ‘earned recognition’, so that compliant businesses are subject to fewer inspections and unnecessary regulatory action.
- doing away with the assumption that compliance is something for the State to enforce alone, moving to a presumption that regulators should work with business through ‘co-regulation’ wherever possible.
- working with businesses, through local enterprise partnerships and local authorities, to promote better local regulation.
- a presumption that regulators should help businesses comply with the law.
- establishing the principle that no business should face a sanction for simply having asked a regulatory authority for advice.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Business has said clearly that regulatory enforcement is too often heavy-handed, inefficient and risk-averse – all of which drains productive businesses of time and resources. That’s why we’re introducing a review of all regulators.
“We will also move to a transparent and light-touch system based on real risks, including extending the successful Primary Authority scheme and bringing the Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) into Government as a new Better Regulation Delivery Office.
“We will end the tick-box approach to inspection, including establishing sunset review clauses on most new statutory regulators created in the future.”
The Government now plans to gather more evidence before outlining more detailed proposals in the spring. It says that businesses “will see a real difference, becoming more like customers rather than simply on the receiving end, of the regulatory enforcement system”.
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