Supplementary memorandum submitted by
At the Inquiry's Oral Evidence session on 13
May 2008, I undertook to write to the Committee on Defra's approach
to implementing the Hampton Report`s recommendation on reducing
form filling burdens on business.
The reduction of the administrative burden imposed
on business, of which form-filling is a part, is a core component
of Defra's drive on better regulation. We are conscious that,
in practice, businesses' most frequent and direct experience of
regulatory enforcement is form filling, and it is seen by them
as a real irritant.
Some significant reductions in the form-filling
burden have been made since Hampton reported and has been identified
in Defra's successive Simplification Plans.
The Single Payment Scheme, which accounts for
21% of Defra's administrative burden on business, has undergone
several changes to simplify the process. Pre-populated forms were
introduced in 2006 and data quality and accuracy of data captures
are improving each year. A Defra customer survey, for example,
suggested that RPA is reducing the amount of time that customers
spend completing the SPS claim process. RPA is moving toward a
modular claim form which means business will need only to complete
relevant parts. RPA will also start to provide business with an
alternative channel for data submission from 2008.
The Environmental Permitting Programme is also
delivering significant outcomes by streamlining and simplifying
the operation of environmental permitting and compliance systems,
and the processes of obtaining, varying and transferring permits.
It is estimated that the EPP will produce administrative savings
to business over the next three years of: 2008-09 £1.6 million
saving; 2009-10 £8.9 million saving; and 2010-11 £8.9
We are building on the work already carried
out in a strategic review of Forms. In 2007 an initial scoping
exercise analysed the number, type and broad requirements of forms
in place across the Defra network. Further scoping in early 2008
has looked in more detail at issues like data protection statements,
guidance for forms completion and contracting out of a gatekeeper
role for better regulation proofing of new forms.
This work has been taken forward in tandem with
Defra's root and branch "Renew" review which is introducing
a sea change in working practices, including a new approach to
the policy-cycle. We are looking to see how the two initiatives
The overall aim of the Forms review is to repeal
or modernise outdated forms and limit data collection to essential
information. We expect to initiate a formal overhaul of the stock
of existing forms in the next few months and to complete that
work by early-mid 2009. Once it has been taken through, we are
confident it will contribute to reducing the overall administrative
burden that is placed on businesses as a result of Defra regulation
and processes. Quality assurance and challenge mechanisms, such
as a forms gatekeeper, will ensure that new forms are assessed
against better regulation criteria. We will provide updates on
progress in future Simplification Plans.
I am copying this letter to the other witnesses