Red tape drive hit by policy failures

The Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) said that one in five of all new policy proposals is still “not fit for purpose” despite a Coalition drive to “effect a red-tape revolution” and improve the quality of regulation.

Departments are frequently failing to examine alternatives to regulation and to properly quantify the costs to business of new rules, the independent body said.

Michael Gibbons, RPC chairman, said it is “hard to explain” why departments aren’t making more progress after the Government promised to light a red tape “bonfire” in 2010.

“[Departments’ performance] is not in accordance with the guidelines they set themselves,” he said. “We are still seeing rushed bits of policy.”

The RPC was set up in 2009, by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, to provide independent advice to government on the quality of analysis supporting new regulations, reports The Telegraph.

In the first half of 2013, 20pc of “impact assessments” for proposed rules filed by government departments were given a “red” rating under the RPC’s “traffic light” system. This is supposed to prevent new rules from being implemented but a number of regulations have been passed despite the RPC’s objections.

Whitehall’s red tape performance has deteriorated slightly compared with the same period last year, despite the Government’s insistence that its deregulatory agenda is making solid progress.

Mr Gibbons, a former Powergen director, said: “We have seen a levelling off in the quality of evidence supporting new regulatory proposals. One in five initial submissions rated as not fit for purpose is disappointing. Pressure needs to be maintained on departments . . . to improve. Those being regulated expect high quality. It’s not unreasonable to expect 95pc of proposals to be [fit for purpose].”

Departments are frequently exaggerating the savings associated with outgoing regulations in order to allow costly new red tape to be brought in under the Government’s flagship “one-in, two-out” red tape pledge.