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Assessing our Regulatory System – The Hampton Review

Sir Philip Hampton’s 2005 review, ‘Reducing administrative burdens: effective inspection and enforcement’ considered how to reduce unnecessary administration for businesses, without compromising the UK's excellent regulatory regime.

The review found that the current regulatory system imposed too many forms, duplicate information requests and multiple inspections on businesses. Hampton recommended that introducing risk assessment could:

  • reduce inspections by up to a third – meaning around one million fewer inspections
  • cut the number of forms sent by regulators by almost 25 per cent

The report also stated that risk assessment would help regulators target non-compliant businesses more effectively, and reduce the burden on those businesses that do comply.


In his final report, Hampton proposed:

  • reducing inspections where risks are low, but increasing them where necessary
  • making much more use of advice, applying the principle of risk assessment
  • substantially reducing the need for form-filling and other regulatory information requirements
  • applying tougher and more consistent penalties where necessary
  • reducing the number of regulators that businesses deal with from thirty-one to seven
  • entrenching reform by requiring all new policies and regulations to consider enforcement, using existing structures wherever possible
  • creating a business-led body at the centre of government to drive implementation of the recommendations and challenge departments on their regulatory performance

As a result of this final recommendation, the Government created the Better Regulation Executive (BRE) to oversee the reduction of regulatory burdens on business, and hold government departments and regulators to account. The Government’s response to the recommendations can be seen in ‘Implementing Hampton: from enforcement to compliance’.

The Hampton Principles

Along with these specific recommendations, the Hampton Review set out some key principles that should be consistently applied throughout the regulatory system:

  • regulators, and the regulatory system as a whole, should use comprehensive risk assessment to concentrate resources on the areas that need them most
  • regulators should be accountable for the efficiency and effectiveness of their activities, while remaining independent in the decisions they take
  • no inspection should take place without a reason
  • businesses should not have to give unnecessary information, nor give the same piece of information twice
  • the few businesses that persistently break regulations should be identified quickly and face proportionate and meaningful sanctions
  • regulators should provide authoritative, accessible advice easily and cheaply
  • regulators should be of the right size and scope, and no new regulator should be created where an existing one can do the work
  • regulators should recognize that a key element of their activity will be to allow, or even encourage, economic progress and only to intervene when there is a clear case for protection

See how the Government and BRE are implementing the Hampton principles through the work of the Improving Regulatory Delivery Team.