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RRG’s Second Report: The Principles of Regulation

The Regulatory Reform Group’s first report highlighted a variety of systemic issues within the UK’s regulatory landscape. A lack of accountability and a culture of inertia were top of a list of widely-accepted issues within the UK’s regulatory system, all of which are at least in part responsible for preventing the UK from capitalising on its new-found freedoms to kick-start economic growth, facilitate innovation, and attract investment.

 

The response to our report was one of overwhelming support and agreement. Many businesses have echoed the concerns raised, and individuals within the regulators themselves have reached out to add their voices to the calls for reform.

 

But we have been clear from the inception of the RRG that this must not be merely an academic exercise, our goal has always been to see a tangible benefit for consumers and businesses who are burdened by the often overlooked consequences of an imperfect regulatory system.

 

We have produced this second report to show why regulators as well as regulation matters, and why we should all be calling for systemic regulatory reform. We believe that the only reason that it has evaded scrutiny for as long as it has is because the extent to which our regulatory system is impacting people’s everyday lives is drastically underestimated.

 

We appreciate that regulatory reform is not the most newsworthy or exciting policy area, and there will always be something more urgent and more exciting on the desk of Ministers. But the benefits that we stand to gain from getting this right, in terms of delivering tangible improvements to people’s daily lives, are enormous.

 

We have conducted extensive research to uncover cases where regulators have failed to prioritise consumers, and the outcome has been homes not being built, higher energy bills, hosepipe bans, and small businesses and many individuals unreasonably losing access to their bank accounts - examples that come up time and again when we hear complaints on the doorstep that nothing seems to work as it should.

 

Clearly, successive Governments have let consumers down. Too often regulators have been able to make decisions detrimental to consumers and the economy, and get away with it. Competition is being eroded and consumers left inadequately protected. It is the task of the Government urgently to enact major, and if necessary, systemic  regulatory reform in order to respond to voters’ priorities: protection from a rip-off culture; tackling the cost-of living and boosting the economy.

Now is a better time than ever to seize this mantle of regulatory reform, as the conclusion of the UK’s exit from the EU has brought into sharp relief the lack of accountability within our domestic regulatory architecture. I am thrilled, then, that we have such a supportive Secretary of State for Business and Trade who is championing the issue of regulatory reform, and has been so receptive to our work. This has already begun to bear fruit, with the Department for Business and Trade setting out its principles which would underpin a framework of smarter regulation, and recently launching its ‘review of regulators’ which, among other things, will examine how to bolster accountability and improve governance.

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