United Kingdom

The United Kingdom continues to invest in broadening the scope of its regulatory policy system. In response to an OECD IRC review published in 2020, the government has committed to develop an IRC strategy for the whole-of-government. A question was added to the RIA template in 2019, asking if a new measure was likely to impact on international trade and investment. The government published a White Paper in 2019, "Regulation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution", containing policies for reforming the regulatory system to support innovation. As part of this suite of policies, a new Regulatory Horizon Council has been established to advise the government on regulations that may need to be reformed to keep pace with technological change. Furthermore, an Innovation Test has been piloted to ensure that the impact of regulation on innovation is considered in the early stages of policy making.

However, the UK’s regulatory policy system continues to have a particular focus on business, as the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 obliges the government to set a target for the change of regulatory burdens on business and civil society organisations for each Parliament. Government departments regularly conduct post implementation reviews, in particular for all measures with a significant impact on business. In addition, at the pre-implementation and review stages, new regulatory measures with significant regulatory impacts on business are expected to have full RIAs and be submitted to the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) for scrutiny. The United Kingdom may benefit from extending the focus of its current regulatory policy agenda on business on other elements important for sustainable and inclusive growth.

The RPC is a non-departmental advisory body responsible for providing the government with external, independent scrutiny of evidence and analysis supporting new regulatory proposals in RIAs and ex post evaluations of legislation. Significant changes to the scope of the RPC’s scrutiny function were introduced during 2017-19. A new higher de minimis (threshold) rule was introduced to the better regulation framework, whereby only measures with significant regulatory impacts on businesses (greater than -/+ GBP 5m) are expected to have full RIAs and be submitted to the RPC for scrutiny.

The Better Regulation Executive (BRE), located within the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, is responsible for better regulation policy and is the lead unit in the UK government for promoting and delivering changes to the regulatory policy framework. The Cabinet Office is responsible for the Guide to Making Legislation and providing training and support to government departments making legislation. It is also in charge of convening cross-government policy positions, mainly through the collective agreement process.

Public consultations occur systematically for new regulations in the United Kingdom and are conducted over the internet. To enhance the accessibility of consultations, the United Kingdom could introduce minimum consultation periods with the general public.

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