1. The pressure for regulatory reform should continue,
but we recommend that the BRE should set clear priorities, together
with timetables for delivery. We recommend that the BRE consider
how better to co-ordinate communication of its initiatives to
stakeholders. (Paragraph 16)
The Government agrees that the pressure for regulatory
reform should continue.
Communication of the successes of the regulatory
reform agenda is a key objective for the Government in year 2008-09
and onwards. The Government has increased the resource available
to strengthen communication with stakeholders and beneficiaries
of the regulatory reform agenda. The immediate focus will be on
communication with business.
Details of regulatory reform activities are available
in annual Simplification Plans and Departmental Annual Reports.
2. We urge the BRE to apply good regulatory practice
and target initiatives where they will be most productive. Better
regulation principles including consultation and impact assessment
should be applied to regulatory reform initiatives themselves.
The Government agrees and constantly strives to encourage
the application of good regulatory practice.
The Government focuses its regulatory reform programme
where evidence suggests will be most productive for example, the
Annual Survey of Small Businesses' Opinions, 2006-07 informed
the need for the Government's Review of Guidance, also known as
the "Anderson Review" which will publish at the end
The NAO's report: "Reducing the Cost of Complying
with Regulations: The Delivery of the Administrative Burdens
Reduction Programme, 2007" indicates the five areas of regulation
imposing the largest burdens are Company Law, Planning, Employment
Law, VAT and Health and Safety. The Government has worked on each
of these policy areas to assess how best to reduce the administrative
burdens imposed on businesses, the public and third sectors. Extensive
consultations were carried out in each case.
The Department agrees with the Committee's drive
for regulatory reform principles to be applied to regulatory reform
initiatives. Examples of where this has been done include the
extensive consultation carried out prior to implementation of
the Compliance Code and around introduction of regulatory budgets,
enactment of the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions (RES) Act
on a common commencement date and setting out the need to produce
simplified guidance on new regulation 12 weeks in advance of it
3. The Panel for Regulatory Accountability should
continue to provide real-time scrutiny of impact assessments.
We recommend that amendments made during the passage of legislation
be referred to the PRA for post hoc analysis. (Paragraph 20)
The Government believes that the current scrutiny
provided by the Panel for Regulatory Accountability is sufficient.
The Better Regulation Executive advises Ministers including the
Panel for Regulatory Accountability (PRA) on how to respond to
parliamentary amendments during the passage of legislation. However,
the speed of amendments being considered makes this a challenge.
The Government's current Impact Assessment (IA) scrutiny
process within departments includes Chief Economist involvement
and Ministerial sign-off. Better Regulation Executive Account
Managers support and challenge departments' legislative proposals,
generally before Impact Assessments are ready to go to PRA where
PRA has the power to block any legislation.
In addition to this Government scrutiny, the requirement
for all departments to publish Impact Assessments on the internet
when new legislation is enacted, ongoing since April 2007, means
they are more readily open to public scrutiny.
4. We recommend that experience in the promotion
of better regulation be taken into account as soon as possible
in determining structures for Civil Service career development.
The Government agrees with the Committee's recommendation
that experience in better regulation should be an integral part
of the career path of Civil Servants.
The Government remains committed to communicating
the importance of the regulatory reform agenda and ensuring that
members of the Senior Civil Service have the necessary knowledge
and skills to perform successfully in their roles.
The Professional Skills for Government (PSG) competency
framework sets out the skills and expertise required by individuals
in their current positions and those which they need to develop
for promotion. These depend on an individual's role and department,
- core skills
- professional skills (specific to profession and
- broader experience (Senior Civil Service only)
Exposure to the tools of the regulatory reform agenda,
for example Impact Assessments, is a mainstream activity for all
civil servants, particularly those at senior levels.
5. We believe that, for the time being at least,
the BRE should remain at BERR. However, we recommend that the
Government take positive steps to ensure that the BRE retains
freedom to pursue a balanced regulatory reform agenda that serves
the interests of all sectors, and that it is seen to do so. (Paragraph
Since moving to BERR the BRE has retained a cross-government
remit and continues to support and challenge Government Departments
in embedding and practising the principles of better regulation.
The Government remains committed to a regulatory
reform agenda which serves the interests of all sectors. For example,
the Government is committed to improving regulation for the Third
Sector and the public sector front line. Progress on delivery
for these sectors will be included in 2008 Simplification Plans
which are due for publication in December 2008.
6. Although we recognise the steps that the BRE
has already taken to engage a cross-section of stakeholders, we
recommend that the Better Regulation Executive review its resource
allocations, programmes and communications and continue to take
steps toward achieving greater recognition of consumers, employees,
local government, the public sector and the third sector, alongside
business interests, in determining the priorities for regulatory
reform. (Paragraph 35)
At the outset of the regulatory reform agenda the
Government took the decision to prioritise making quick progress
on the recommendations of the Hampton and Arculus reports, which
largely benefit the private sector.
With the regulatory reform agenda gaining traction,
the Government has started to focus its regulatory reform resources
on a broader range of issues - eg consumer information, Hampton
Implementation Review lines of enquiry and the public sector.
Although the main focus of the Administrative Burden
Reduction Programme is private and third sector costs, this work
also benefits public sector organisations as they are also large
employers within the UK economy.
The Government will also continue to deliver on the
commitments made in the Public Sector strategy and the subsequent
30% target. As part of that, the Better Regulation Executive further
supports and challenges departments on this agenda.
The Government has increased resources to communicate
its successes to stakeholders - the immediate focus of this is
the business community.
7. We recommend that the BRE consider whether
its procedures and practices for retaining and sharing institutional
knowledge are adequate in light of the policy of relatively high
staff turnover. (Paragraph 38)
The Department agrees with the Committee's recommendation
and is constantly looking at this area, seeking feedback from
staff when their contracts come to an end in order to mitigate
the risk that institutional knowledge is lost.
As a result of keeping institutional knowledge under
review the Better Regulation Executive has in place a number of
measures to ensure institutional knowledge is retained and shared.
Firstly, the Better Regulation Executive has an extensive
induction programme for new starters which cements core knowledge
of the organisation and ensures that knowledge is routinely passed
Secondly, the Department maintains a robust briefing
mechanism which ensures that regulatory reform policies and issues
are retained as institutional knowledge both within the Better
Regulation Executive and more widely within Department as a whole.
Finally, the Department runs a comprehensive range
of seminars and lectures for staff. These are specifically designed
to share knowledge, best practice and lessons learned among all
staff at the Department.
8. We recommend that the BRE strengthen its channels
for obtaining grass roots information from the level of individual
businesses and individual local authorities, as well as individual
organisations in the third sector. The BRE should use its contact
with the new Local Better Regulation Office as one means of achieving
that objective. The BRE should take steps to advertise its existence
at all levels, including trade associations. (Paragraph 41)
The Government has increased its resources dedicated
to communication of the successes of the better regulation agenda,
with an immediate focus on the business community.
The Department works closely with and will continue
to approach trade associations to listen to their views and the
views of their constituents as part of its heightened awareness
of the need for dialogue with stakeholders.
The Department has strengthened and better coordinated
the resources dedicated to its communications approach. The strategy
involves working with and through others to deliver pro-active
engagement with business stakeholders and audiences, including
those at 'grass roots' level.
The Department has begun a national and regional
drive to refresh engagement and dialogue with stakeholders and
their representatives, including trade associations. The immediate
focus of this engagement includes listening to the views and perceptions
of the business community.
The Department will continue to run its programme
of visits to businesses and continue to elicit grass roots information
through this channel.
The Department will work closely with Local Better
Regulation Office (LBRO) to ensure that it effectively utilises
its knowledge and understanding of individual businesses and businesses
sectors, as well as its expertise in local authority regulatory
services. LBRO's work such as: its business engagement strategy,
business survey, the Retail Enforcement Pilot, Beacons, and the
'Trading Places' business-local authority officer exchange scheme
all provide specific instances where LBRO will be gathering evidence
or "grass roots" information about local authorities
and business perceptions.
9. We recommend that the BRE become more actively
involved in facilitating greater sharing of best practice among
regulators and Government Departments. The new Local Better Regulation
Office should be involved in articulating the local authority
perspective in that exchange. (Paragraph 43)
The Government agrees that there should be greater
sharing of best practice among regulators and Government Departments.
The Government is currently conducting a series of
reviews of regulators, assessing their work against the principles
of good practice identified by the Hampton Report. The Hampton
Implementation Reviews will also identify examples of good regulatory
practice which the Better Regulation Executive will seek to disseminate.
In a similar vein, LBRO is developing a common excellence standard
for local authority regulatory services and is testing potential
assessment models with specific local authorities The statutory
Regulators Compliance Code, which builds upon the Hampton principles,
also sets out the standards of regulatory best practice to which
regulators must have regard.
LBRO will share best practice amongst local
authorities, as well as innovative approaches to the provision of
regulatory services, including through the provision of financial
support and assistance. LBRO are currently operating a programme
to systematically identify and disseminate best practice and is
involved in the current Beacons 'cutting red tape' theme.
In addition LBRO are working with a coalition of
national regulators, professional bodies and Government Departments
to develop a world class local authority regulatory system. This
includes developing a common standard of excellence and common
frameworks to address issues such as competence, data sharing
and risk assessment, which will draw on the best elements of practice
across regulatory functions. LBRO are currently operating a Best
Practice Programme and working with national regulators and Government
Departments on a programme designed to develop a world class regulatory
system within the United Kingdom.
LBRO will have an important role in advising Government
regarding local regulatory enforcement and best practice
in relation to the implementation of regulation at the local level.
The Government recognises that the
Local Authority Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACoRS),
as part of the Local Government Association and as a representative
of local authorities, will continue to articulate the
perspective of local authorities. The Government welcomes
In addition the Department leads and participates
in a number or networks involving Government Department and regulators
at which sharing knowledge and best practice is routine.
10. We recommend that the BRE play an active role
in holding Government Departments to account for their performance
in the area of regulatory reform and that the BRE develop a system
for monitoring and evaluating Departmental performance and reporting
the results publicly. It should work with Government Departments
to develop suitable evaluation criteria with appropriate weighting
of those criteria and agreed evidential sources for assessing
performance. Agencies should be included in such evaluation when
relevant. (Paragraph 46)
The Government is satisfied that its current role
supporting and challenging Government Departments through the
regulatory reform agenda is yielding the required results. The
annual publication of Simplification Plans publicly holds Departments
to account on their delivery against the 25% administrative burden
reduction target, and Impact Assessments are published on the
internet increasing the transparency of Government's rationale
behind its policy-making and regulation. Departmental Annual Reports
also provide a vehicle for public reporting on better regulation.
The Department's performance in ensuring that all
Government Departments and agencies deliver better regulation
for the private, public and third sectors is monitored and evaluated
through the existing Capability Review mechanism as well as through
the Public Service Agreements and Departmental Strategic Objectives.
11. We recommend continued strong interaction
between HMRC and the BRE on the implementation of regulatory reform,
reinforced by an established pattern of regular meetings, and
that HMRC should operate under the same initiatives and principles
as all Government Departments with respect to the regulatory reform
agenda. (Paragraph 51)
The Government welcomes the Committee's acknowledgement
of the strong and productive interaction between HMRC and the
Better Regulation Executive. There is an Account Management relationship
between the Better Regulation Executive and HMRC which provides
the framework for regular contact and liaison between the two
Departments and for BRE to provide appropriate support and challenge
to HMRC on better regulation issues.
However, HMRC operates in a parallel but separate
track from other departments because HMRC is a tax authority and
not a regulator. Tax is controlled through the financial budget
process, ensuring that government can fairly and flexibly finance
HMRC works in step with Better Regulation Executive
and other Departments, following the Impact Assessment process
and Government Code of Practice on consultation and is also targeting
its own administrative burden reduction. Since 2006, HMRC has
delivered, or is committed to, measures which will reduce administrative
burdens on business by up to £400 million pa.
12. We recommend that the Risk and Regulation
Advisory Council should be given a clear role in providing independent
challenge in the regulatory reform area. (Paragraph 53)
The Government does not accept this recommendation.
The Better Regulation Commission was asked by Government to report
on the future function of the Commission and the Government accepted
its recommendations on the formation of the Risk and Regulation
Advisory Council (RRAC) and the RRAC's role.
The Government is, of course, subject to scrutiny
by Parliament on the regulatory reform agenda. The Government
also welcomes challenge from external stakeholders and key reforms,
for example to the impact assessment process, have been introduced
to make that challenge easier for external stakeholders to exercise.
As a result of the Committee's recommendations in
this report, the Government is currently implementing plans to
extend the independent challenge it currently receives from external
13. We recommend that, in order to provide greater
accountability and a measure of independent review, the BRE submit
an annual report to Parliament, addressing performance against
its clearly defined objectives. The report should distinguish
between the work of Government Departments and the work of the
BRE itself. (Paragraph 55)
The Government agrees with the Committee's recommendation.
The formal Annual Report of the Department for Business Enterprise
and Regulatory Reform incorporates the Better Regulation Executive's
performance against its objectives. This is publicly available.
In addition to this Annual Report the Better Regulation
Executive will in future publish an annual overview of the achievements
of the regulatory reform agenda as a whole.
14. We recommend that given the high importance
attached to the regulatory reform agenda the Government give serious
consideration to including the position of Executive Chair of
the BRE on the list of senior posts which should be subject to
future pre-appointment hearing. (Paragraph 56)
The Government rejects this recommendation as the
post of Executive Chair at the Better Regulation Executive is
a civil service post.
15. We believe that the credibility of the Administrative
Burdens Reduction Programme savings figures and the achievement
of meaningful results are more important than preoccupation with
avoiding, say, a 2% or 3% shortfall on the 25% target. We therefore
recommend careful scrutiny of all savings figures, but at the
same time call for recognition that the shortcomings of the standard
cost model require acceptance of flexibility around targets. The
ABRP should not be considered to have failed if, for instance,
22% of real burdens reduction has a discernible impact. (Paragraph
The Government welcomes the Committee's comments
and agrees that careful scrutiny of all savings figures should
be carried out. As a result of this recommendation the Government
is currently implementing a plan to extend the independent scrutiny
of the Administrative Burden Reduction Programme's savings figures.
For December 2008 Simplification plans the Government is implementing
extended independent scrutiny of Departments' claimed savings
The Department will continue to be involved in the
monitoring of Departmental claimed savings.
The Government agrees with the Committee's conclusion
that the Administrative Burden Reduction Programme should not
be considered to have failed if significant real burden reductions
have a discernible impact. However, the Government remains committed
to driving forward the planned delivery of 25% reduction in administrative
16. We recommend that there be constant scrutiny
both of ongoing progress on the ABRP and of the robustness of
claimed Departmental savings. The BRE should play a continuous
role in such monitoring, which should cover burdens reduction
indicators beyond that of the 25% target, such as irritation factors
to businesses and others. (Paragraph 67)
The Government accepts the Committee's recommendation
that there be constant scrutiny both of ongoing progress on the
Administrative Burden Reduction Programme and of the robustness
of claimed Departmental savings. The Government scrutinises savings
claimed by Departments.
As a result of the Committee's recommendation, for
December 2008 Simplification plans the Department is implementing
extended independent scrutiny of Departments' claimed savings
The Better Regulation Executive will continue to
be involved in the monitoring of Departmental claimed savings.
The Government agrees that it is important that the
Administrative Burden Reduction Programme addresses irritation
factors. The successful removal of such irritations is a key element
of communicating the programme's success.
17. We recommend that Government Departments and
Executive Agencies include in their Annual Reports their progress
against simplification plans, and that there be greater measurement
of actual take-up of savings proposals. We recommend that the
BRE to continue to look for ways to make greater impacts on burdens
reduction. (Paragraphs 68, 69 and 71)
The Government agrees with the Committee that Government
Departments and Executive Agencies report on their delivery progress
against their Simplification Plans for Administrative Burden Reduction
Programme. However, the Government rejects the recommendation
that this be done through the vehicle of Annual Reports. The current
mechanism for reporting the Departments' progress against Simplification
Plans provides a greater level of detailed reporting than would
be possible in Annual Reports.
The Government accepts the Committee's recommendation
that there be greater validation of actual take-up of savings
proposals and, as a result, will heighten scrutiny of Departments'
Simplification Plans in 2008, particularly for large savings claims.
18. We recommend that the BRE consider setting
up a body in this country analogous to the Stevens and Wientjes
Committees in the Netherlands. (Paragraph 73)
The Government is committed to continuous improvement
and will keep considering ways to improve the UK model, but at
present the Government does not accept the Committee's recommendation
that the UK regulatory reform agenda needs a Committee which carries
out the functions of the Stevens or Wientjes Committees in the
Netherlands. The Government believes these functions are carried
out in the following ways:
Firstly, the National Audit Office
has identified the top five regulatory burdens using the standard
cost model and conducted research
to ascertain the perspective of the business community about which
elements of each of these five regulatory burdens should be simplified
and the Government continues to consult with and extract from
the business community its perceptions on these regulations, which
have the highest burden on business.
Secondly, the Government actively engages with stakeholders
in a coordinated and measured way. Business stakeholders support
the need for regulatory reform and are keen that it should make
Finally, the Government remains committed to communicating
to stakeholders the results and successes of the regulatory reform
agenda. Its immediate focus is on the business community.
19. We recommend that the BRE focus on the issue
of customising communications to individual business sectors.
The Government agrees with this recommendation. The
Better Regulation Executive is currently assessing the most effective
way of communicating with business audiences; be that by sector
or by focussing on the key issues that cut across all sectors,
or a combination of both.
Where relevant, Better Regulation Executive will
be involving other Government Departments and agencies in this
work and will be testing its findings on business in order to
refine its approach.
20. We recommend renewed focus on the target of
reducing public sector data requests by 30%. We recommend that
progress in reducing public sector and third sector burdensand
their measurementbe given equal emphasis to that of the
business sector programme. (Paragraph 75)
The Government agrees with the Committee's recommendation
and is committed to its focus on delivery of the public sector
strategy. The regulatory reform agenda already benefits public
and third sectors as well as businesses.
The Government's Public Sector Strategy is part of
a wider Government agenda to reform the public sector, including
reducing barriers to innovation for frontline workers.
There is cross-government collaboration on the achievement
of the 30% data-request reduction target. As with the Administrative
Burden Reduction Programme, Government Departments will be required
to provide an update on their performance in their Simplification
21. We recommend that the BRE should have a role
in scrutiny of impact assessments, selected on the basis of financial
thresholds, including in support of any introduction of regulatory
budgets. (Paragraph 81)
The Better Regulation Executive is currently involved
in the scrutiny of Impact Assessments and will continue to support
and challenge Departments to deliver policy-making and legislation
which are informed by early, robust Impact Assessments.
The current structure for this support and challenge
includes the Better Regulation Executive's 'Account Manager' structure.
Each Department has a dedicated point of contact whose role it
is to work in collaboration with Departments to ensure Impact
Assessments are robust, that alternative policy solutions are
explored and to encourage better regulation principles in decision-making.
In addition, each Department has a Better Regulation
Unit which acts as the regulatory reform 'champion' for their
home Department. These teams play an active and consistent role
in challenging and scrutinising Impact Assessments whilst in development
at their home Department.
The Better Regulation Executive will have involvement
in the scrutiny of Impact Assessments in the context of the proposed
system of regulatory budgets.
22. Any proposed system for setting and publicising
regulatory budgets should take into account the fact that desirable
regulation, not least in the environmental and health and safety
areas, carries with it certain inevitable costs. Similarly, there
should be safeguards against undue pressure to remove necessary
regulation merely as a means of meeting budgetary targets. (Paragraph
The Government agrees that good regulation should
provide essential protections and benefits for the public, consumers,
employees and the environment. Any system of regulatory budgets
would need to ensure that the benefits of regulation were taken
into account when setting budget levels and budgets would be announced
alongside anticipated benefits.
The Government's consultation on regulatory budgets
proposes that cost savings from new simplification measures should
be taken into account in meeting departments' budgets. Any such
simplification measures would be subject to the Impact Assessment
process, which requires departments to set out the estimated costs
and benefits of proposed measures and ensures that those interested
in policies can understand and challenge the Government's proposals.
In relation to regulations enforced locally, the
Government recognises that LBRO has relevant expertise and that
it should draw on this expertise when applicable.
23. We recommend that, if regulatory budgets are
adopted, and subject to the outcome of any review on independent
scrutiny, Government Departments provide relevant data in their
Annual Reports as a means of providing proper scrutiny. We recommend
that Departments begin already to focus on their plans for post-2010.
Whatever the nature of the then Government, there will be a need
for further progress in regulatory reform. (Paragraph 86)
The Government's consultation on regulatory budgets
proposes that departments and relevant regulators could report
on progress against their regulatory budgets in their Annual Reports,
and via a central report published at the end of the period. Reporting
could cover the costs and benefits of regulations imposed during
that period and whether costs were within budget. This consultation
closes on 12 November, and the Government will publish its response
within 8 weeks.
With the consultation on the proposed system of regulatory
budgets, the Government's planning and focus for the regulatory
reform agenda goes beyond 2010.
24. In November 2006, the Davidson review reported
on the issue of gold-plating and other over-implementation of
EU legislation, and concluded that although instances of gold-plating
could be identified, its overall incidence was not substantial.
We welcome the fact that it is now a requirement of impact assessments
that they contain an indication of whether gold-plating is occurring,
and require it to be fully justified. We welcome the Minister's
confirmation that, if regulatory budgets are adopted, they will
include EU legislation. (Paragraphs 87 and 88)
The Government has confirmed this during the oral
25. We recommend that the BRE prioritise how to
increase its influence in achieving regulatory reform at the EU
level. We recommend that the BRE undertake a feasibility study
of where it would like EU regulatory reform to be from the UK
perspective, where the resource gaps are in getting there, and
how to remedy them. Subject to the outcome of any such study,
it might wish to consider having permanent independent representation
in Brussels. (Paragraph 91)
The Government is committed to achieving regulatory
reform at the EU level. The UK successfully led the call for a
programme to measure and reduce EU administrative burdens, and
continues to work to achieve more evidence-based policy-formation
in the European institutions. The Better Regulation Executive
leads on this agenda across Government, providing the resources
necessary to update and implement the UK's strategy.
The Better Regulation Executive, as part of Government,
carries out this work through the UK's Permanent Representation
to the EU (UKRep). This ensures that better regulation messages
can be presented across all Council formations as appropriate.
26. We recommend that Better Regulation Ministers
within Government Departments keep the flow of legislative reform
orders under review and take every opportunity to use them to
their fullest extent. We recommend that legislative reform orders
be used primarily for their intended purpose of reducing burdens
and improving regulation, and that steps be taken to improve the
preparation of primary and secondary legislation to avoid the
need for corrective legislation shortly after the passage of an
originating measure. We further recommend that the Government
establish proper mechanisms for prioritising and managing the
flow of legislative reform orders. In addition, we recommend that
we receive periodic updates of the measures that are intended
to be reviewed via primary legislation, by way of a copy of the
BRE's schedule of such information. (Paragraphs 93 and 94)
The Government agrees that Legislative Reform Orders
(LROs) should be used to reduce regulatory burdens at every appropriate
However, the number of LROs should not be seen as
a measure of the success of the regulatory reform agenda as a
whole since LROs are just one of the many tools for simplifying
regulations or reducing the administrative burden of regulations.
The Government will continue to train civil servants
(including Departmental legal personnel) how to draft effective
The Government will continue endeavouring to manage
the flow of LROs resulting from the flow policy commitments driven
by Ministers. There may be some peaks and troughs in the throughput
of LROs particularly where departments attempt to use common commencement
dates in October and April of each year.
27. We recommend that a cost/benefit analysis
of the retail enforcement pilot be undertaken. We further recommend
that the BRE and the Department of Work and Pensions consider
conducting a pilot study on simplification of processes to consider
where and how decisions on benefit awards might be capable of
delegation to local offices without the need for data collection,
and that the results of that study be shared with other Departments
as a potential model for rationalising data collection. (Paragraph
The Government agrees that a cost benefit analysis
of the Retail Enforcement Pilot should be carried out. It should
focus on identifying the 'lessons learned' to establish the broader
benefits of the pilot, and disseminating those lessons in order
to optimise the value of the investment in the REP pilot.
The Government does not agree with the recommendation
that the Better Regulation Executive and the Department for Work
and Pensions consider conducting a pilot study on simplification
of processes to consider where and how decisions on benefit awards
might be capable of delegation to local offices without the need
for data collection and the results of that study be shared with
other Departments as a potential model for rationalising data
The Government supports the need for data sharing
and shares information with other public bodies, as the law permits,
to make it easier for the citizen to receive services or benefits
to which they are entitled, for example by providing information
to Local Authorities to verify entitlement to free school meals
and sharing information with the BBC and its contractors for the
administration of the free TV licence scheme for pensioners 75
By 2011, through its cross-Government IT programme
Government Connect, the Government plans to further improve services
by enabling local authorities and central government to share
sensitive data in a highly secure way. This will ensure central
government and local authorities have the most up-to-date and
synchronised information when they need it.
A network of benefit processing and contact centres
provides access for customers to Jobcentre Plus' services. The
current approach provides quality and consistency in decision-making,
efficiency in use of resources and a high standard of service.
28. We agree that the challenge for the BRE is
in better measurement of progress and accountability and in showing
how activities are contributing to major desirable changes. We
recommend that the BRE focus its attention on delivery of current
objectives and on setting clear future objectives and measuring
against them. (Paragraph 100)
The Government agrees that focus on delivery of objectives
is essential for the progress of the regulatory reform agenda.
The Department will continue strive for delivery of its current
Departmental Strategic Objective (DSO) to: "Ensure that all
Government Departments and agencies deliver better regulation
for the private, public and third sectors." The Department
remains focused on delivery of its current objectives and setting
future measurable objectives to drive delivery of the regulatory
Over the coming year, the Better Regulation Executive
will be pursuing a pro-active engagement strategy with business
stakeholders and audiences and will be undertaking more face-to-face
and direct activity. The Better Regulation Executive Communications
Team is currently researching the most effective way to communicate
effectively with businesses and is facilitating a more cohesive
and coherent government-wide approach to communicating on better
29. We believe that, in its short lifetime, the
BRE has made a significant contribution to improving the UK's
regulatory environment on the basis of a demanding agenda. Its
major challenges are to maintain strategic focus-particularly
if the new programme of regulatory budgets is adopted-and to ensure
that there is proper quality control and measurement of deliverables
against clear targets, including in relation to burdens reduction
figures. It needs, too, to be rigorous in assessing its own performance,
to focus on improving perceptions, and to look at improving some
of its internal operating procedures as we have suggested. (Paragraph
The Government agrees with the Committee's conclusions
and appreciates the focus the Committee and this Inquiry have
1 Reducing the Cost of Complying with Regulations:
The Delivery of the Administrative Burdens Reduction Programme,
2007 Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, HC 615
Session 2006-07, 25 July 2007 Back
National Audit Office/Ipsos MORI survey of 2,000 businesses conducted
in 2007 Back