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Better regulation and impact assessment

The Government's regulatory reform agenda aims to eliminate obsolete and inefficient regulation, create user-friendly new guidelines and tackle inconsistencies in the regulatory system.

Better regulation in Defra is managed by the Better Regulation Unit. Defra reports to the Better Regulation Executive (BRE), part of the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), who lead on the Government’s regulatory reform agenda.

We are committed to improving the way we regulate and deliver a better service to our customers through more efficient approaches to regulatory inspection and enforcement as outlined in the Hampton principles.  We are looking at ways to reduce forms, inspections, improve advice, and coordinate between our regulatory bodies. 

We are reducing administrative burdens on business through delivering initiatives which were outlined in last December's Simplification Plan, and by encouraging businesses to tell us how we could do better.

  • Simplifying regulation
    Defra has made a commitment to reduce its administrative burdens by 25% by 2010. In our recent Simplification Plan ‘Simplifying the Business Environment: Driving Burdens Down’, published in December 2009, we reported that Defra was on target to achieve a 20% reduction in administrative burdens by May 2010. We have been doing everything possible to close the gap and meet the 25% target. We are validating simplification measures already implemented and have other activities currently in train that we anticipate will enable Defra to meet the 25% target by May 2010. We will continue to ensure that in the last months of the current administrative burden reduction programme we will deliver upon measures that provide meaningful benefits to business. The above link will take you to Defra’s simplification page.  Here you will find further information on the progress that has been made as well as what we will be doing in the future.
  • Impact assessment
    Impact assessment is an essential tool used throughout the policy making process. Impact assessments are designed to set out in a structured way all options and the cost and benefit information of each option for all policy proposals. They must consider the effect on climate change and carbon reduction and, where necessary, they must also consider issues such as competition, health, legal aid and race equality.  New arrangements for carrying out post implementation reviews will be introduced from April 2010.
  • Forward Programme
    The BRE developed proposals for a system of regulatory budgets. Early in 2009, the Cabinet Office’s Economic & Domestic Affairs Committee debated the proposals for regulatory budgets which culminated in a Written Ministerial Statement being laid before Parliament by Lord Mandelson on 2 April 2009. The Government decided not to implement a system of regulatory budgets at this stage. Instead, a programme of better regulation measures is being undertaken. This is the Strengthening Regulatory Management agenda, otherwise known as the Forward Regulatory Programme.
    Government published its Forward Regulatory Programme on 15 October 2009 which includes regulation coming into force up until April 2011, with further updates expected in spring 2010.  Defra will continue to be at the centre of this agenda.
  • Guidance
    Defra and its agencies regularly issue guidance to help business comply with regulations and are committed to following the revised Code of Practice on Guidance on Regulation (PDF 2.1 MB) (on BIS website).  In response to a recommendation from the Anderson Review of Guidance Defra has published a list (see below) of its most frequently used external guidance. The list includes the date on which it is planned to review the guidance to ensure it complies with the Code of Practice. This list will be updated annually.
    List of Defra guidance to help business comply with regulations (PDF 80 KB)

Members of Defra’s delivery network have also published lists of their external guidance with dates by which it will be reviewed, the links to which are included below.

Defra also publishes guidance on Business link, under Environmental and Efficiency and in the Farming Business Sector.

Page last modified: 30 April 2010