By Daniel Hunter

The Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) has been asked by Ministers to provide an independent opinion on whether regulatory proposals meet the new Small and Micro Business Assessment (SMBA), which requires robust evidence that all possible steps have been taken to mitigate any disproportionate impact on small and micro businesses.

The RPC will provide their assessment of departmental SMBAs before the proposals are sent for Cabinet agreement. From the 1 July, if the RPC is not satisfied with the quality of the SMBA the impact assessment for the proposal will receive a ‘not fit for purpose’ rating. Ministers expect to only be asked to clear proposals with a ‘fit for purpose’ impact assessment.

This builds on the RPC’s existing role of providing independent scrutiny of, and challenge on, the evidence and analysis presented in departmental impact assessments for regulatory proposals.

Business Minister, Michael Fallon, said: “This change applies now and I have invited the Regulatory Policy Committee to provide independent challenge to the evidence provided by departments as part of their “fit for purpose” rating system of impact assessments.”

Michael Gibbons, RPC Chair, on the introduction of the SMBA: “Everyone wants policy objectives to be met without introducing inappropriate or unnecessary burdens. I am delighted that the Government has recognised the contribution the RPC can make in this area. Our independent appraisal helps inform the Government's decisions, drawing attention to any issues we find."

John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The burden of regulation often falls heaviest on the smallest of firms. This is why the FSB has called for the RPC to have sharper teeth to defend small and micro firms against poorly framed regulation. The small and micro business assessment should help to make future regulation more manageable and proportionate for the smallest firms, and is to be welcomed. This should mean that business owners will be able to devote time to growing their business and creating jobs rather than form filling.”

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