Public Accounts Committee

Better Regulation inquiry

Inquiry status: Concluded

Report published 12 October 2016. Government response published 19 December 2016.

Report published

Limitations in the government's approach to reducing the cost of regulation mean the scope of the Business Impact Target is open to manipulation, and may not reflect a realistic business-centred view of regulatory costs, according to a report from the National Audit Office.

The Business Impact Target aims to reduce the cost of regulation by £10 billion between 2015 and 2020. The Better Regulation Executive (BRE), a joint Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and Cabinet Office unit, is responsible for developing and implementing a framework for achieving the Target.

The NAO's 2014 survey of business perceptions, published jointly with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, found that 51% of businesses saw the level of regulation in the UK as an obstacle to business success.

National Audit Office report

The National Audit Office report found that the government does not know how much cost businesses incur as a result of its existing regulations. This means that it cannot know how ambitious its target for reducing regulatory costs is. So far this Parliament, the £8.3 billion of expected regulatory costs imposed on business that are not included in the scope of the Target greatly exceed the £0.9 billion savings that are.

According to the NAO, the Target does not and is not designed to reflect all administrative and regulatory costs to business, who also bear costs including tax administration, self-regulation and complying with EU regulation. There is no overall picture of how these costs affect businesses, making it difficult for the government to prioritise its efforts.

Publications

Read all transcripts, written evidence and other material related to the Better Regulation inquiry.

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