By Daniel Hunter

A new scheme introduced gives businesses a stronger voice in influencing how regulators change the way they work.

Under the new Accountability for Regulator Impact scheme non-economic regulators that are planning a significant change in policy or practice — for example, by updating guidance or inspection regimes - will assess and quantify the impact of that change on business.

They will then share and discuss these assessments with trade associations and other business representatives before carrying out the proposed changes.

The measure is part of the government’s drive to make sure the enforcement of regulation places minimum burdens on industry while delivering essential protections and creating a level playing field on which companies can compete fairly.

Business Minister Michael Fallon said: “Promoting transparent and accountable decision making is a vital step in forging a new partnership between regulators and law-abiding companies. It will boost confidence, raise standards and help eliminate unnecessary red tape.”

Julia Evans, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB) and chair of the Trade Association Forum, said: “The NFB fully supports early stage involvement between regulators and industry in developing effective government policy. While SMEs encourage drives to scrap unnecessary regulation through schemes such as the Red Tape Challenge, small businesses are usually supportive of working with regulators to develop workable practices that help them do business.

“The Accountability for Regulator Scheme is a win-win for government and industry that allows businesses to work with regulators. Regulators are now able to actively engage with industry to ensure that new policies address real business concerns.”

Graham Wynn, assistant director for consumer, competition and regulatory affairs at the British Retail Consortium, said: “The new Accountability for Regulator Impact scheme provides an opportunity to fill a gap in the Impact Assessment process — namely the cost of changes in non-legislative guidance, policies and rules. The BRC has been closely involved in its development and trusts that regulators will choose to follow its approach.”

Wider reforms to make the enforcement of regulation less burdensome include a ‘growth duty’ — a proposed statutory duty for regulators to consider the impact of their activities on growth - and a revised Regulators’ Compliance Code.

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