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The Hampton Review recommended that several regulators be merged to reduce the total number of regulators in the UK to just seven by April 2009.
These mergers are already starting to take place in the public sector, following several years of work by government departments.
In the public sector, the mergers form a key part of a strategy to streamline the inspection process. This strategy is also being overseen by the Better Regulation Executive.
Public sector inspections provide the public and ministers with independent assurance on the quality of services they receive. The cost of these inspections doubled between 1999 and 2003, at which point the Government began work to rationalize and reform practices.
Initially, three departments presented plans which would reduce the total cost of their inspectorates by 31%:
Based on the recommendations of the Hampton Review, other departments will build on this work by examining any possibilities to merge regulators in their area.
Additional new legislation will give departments a ‘gatekeeper’ role in the inspection process.
Working together, they have developed clear guidelines that mean public sector regulators must consult each other on any inspections. Departments will be responsible for ensuring this happens.
They will also help manage the burden that the new cross-cutting inspections place on regulatory bodies within their areas of responsibility.