Major government departments are failing to carry out effective impact analysis of regulation which is in breach of their own guidelines according to a new report from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) being launched today (Monday) at the BCC Annual Conference.
The cumulative cost to business of major regulations since 1998 has now reached over £50bn. In 2003, Prime Minister Tony Blair introduced guidelines on his Government's Regulatory Impact Assessments (RIAs) which are designed to quantify costs and benefits to business of proposed regulation. Those very guidelines are being breached by many of his leading Government's departments such as Transport, ODPM, DTI and Revenue and Customs. Most notably, one of the worst offenders is the Treasury, which is supposed to the driving force behind the Government's deregulatory agenda according to the Chancellor. More worryingly, government departments are going through the RIA motions without there being any effective restraint on regulation.
As he releases the report at the opening of the BCC Annual Conference, BCC President Bill Midgley, will say:
"The Government claims better regulation. However new independent research shows that key government departments are failing to comply with the Government's own guidelines.
"One of the worst offenders is the Chancellor's own department, which as the driver of the Government's deregulatory programme, should be setting an example to the rest of Whitehall. It is extremely worrying that the Treasury cannot get its own house in order and has failed to measure the costs on business for over a third of its new regulations. For every regulation that is passed without proper challenge, there is a risk of unnecessary burdens being placed on British businesses, undermining competitiveness and growth.
"It is Gordon Brown who has promised deregulation, in Budget after Budget. It is Gordon Brown who dominates the domestic policy making from which these extra burdens have come. It is Gordon Brown who must be held responsible if the Government fails to roll back the tide of regulations stifling enterprise.
"Macro economic stability is vital and the Government's achievement is real. But we cannot stand still while other economies forge ahead. Dynamic economies demand flexible deregulated markets. From a government that talks the talk of globalization they must walk the walk of global competition and global markets."
"If British business is going to meet the challenge from rising economic powers such as India and China, we need to cut the regulatory burden and stop even more regulations accumulating.
"The research shows that the very system introduced to ensure unnecessary regulations were not imposed on business is not working, as government departments appear to be going through the motions without any real examination of alternatives. This makes a mockery of the system. We need the Chancellor to take action and spearhead a real deregulatory agenda across Whitehall which delivers real and lasting change so that employers notice a real improvement which helps in the day to day running of their businesses."