Brown outlines new regulatory approach

Regulation in the UK is to move to a ‘risk-based’ approach rather than blanket inspection, the Chancellor Gordon Brown said last night.

Speaking at a Confederation of British Industry dinner, Brown told 1,200 businessmen gathered that the Treasury plans to change its attitude to enforcing government rules on issues from taxation to health and safety.

‘In the old model – and for more than one hundred years – the implicit regulatory principle from health and safety to taxation has been 100 per cent inspection of premises, procedures and practices irrespective of known risks or past results; to inspect everyone continuously, demand information on a blanket basis, require forms to be filled in at all times, the only barrier a lack of resources,’ Brown said.

The new model will be different, he added.

‘The breakthrough is moving to a risk based approach – no inspection without justification, no form filling without justification and no information requirements without justification. And thus instead of an implicit threat of 100 per cent inspection, limited only by resources, inspection where there is risk: not just a light touch but a limited touch,’ he said.

Brown’s remarks follow the Hampton review into regulation in the UK outlined in the Budget, which proposed sweeping changes to the number of regulators. His comments suggest further huge changes to the way in which government interacts with business.

Responding to accusations of inefficiency in the private sector, he also promised that the government’s programme ‘will be led by recruiting from the private sector.’

Details of changes suggested by the Hampton review will be announced shortly: ‘We will start with 1 million less inspections, 29 enforcement and inspection bodies abolished or merged, and at least a 25 per cent reduction in form filling,’ the Chancellor said.

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