The Red Tape Challenge is a cross-Whitehall initiative to reduce excessive regulation looking at different areas from Health and Safety to Pensions to Employment law. The Energy theme of the challenge has been open since 25 November and as head of DECC’s Better Regulation Unit I am looking forward to seeing the ideas and suggestions from business, green groups and members of the public. Here are three reasons to get involved.
1. 1. Reducing Bureaucracy
Companies have told us that we seem to be constantly demanding information, without necessarily joining up with the rest of government. For example DECC, and other public bodies, frequently expect them to send in returns on how much energy they have used or supplied and this can become a burden. It goes without saying that if we co-ordinate ourselves better, we may be able to make their lives easier and save unnecessary cost. We are determined to do what we can to identify and tackle this sort of bureaucracy and that is why The Energy Red Tape Challenge is now live.
2. 2. Scrapping pointless regulations and simplifying others
We have already found some regulations that are past their use-by date – you may have noticed that we intend to repeal the regulations on pit ponies. This is because there aren’t any pit ponies nowadays, and even if there were, other animal welfare laws would protect them. We are keen to find simplifications and repeals that actually reduce burdens and save time. Regulations which are easy to comply with may achieve high levels of compliance – it would be great to find some win-win outcomes like this.
We are eager to find more ideas for making life easier for small suppliers. DECC is changing the threshold for CERT and CESP, two obligations on energy suppliers, so that companies with the smallest customer bases are exempt. Small suppliers have pointed out that there is now a big hurdle to climb when they get to 250,000 customers. Our consultation on the design of the new ECO scheme is looking for views on ways of fixing this. We don’t want to create perverse incentives: please let us know if you find them.
Some people have suggested that we consolidate the regulations that apply to particular schemes or areas. Others say, however, that it’s not too difficult to find the rules that apply. It would be good to know how much of a problem this is.
3. 3. Fewer rules and more nudges
Another big challenge is the search for alternatives to regulation. There is information on the pros and cons of various alternatives on the BIS website. This includes links to behavioural insight techniques sometimes referred to as “nudge” – there are some exciting case studies where small changes in approach lead to significant changes in behaviour. DECC published a paper on behaviour change and energy use this summer. Trials are under way, using these techniques to overcome barriers to being more energy efficient. We would welcome ideas for where else we could use such techniques in relation to Energy.
You have until 30 December to give us your views on regulations that can be simplified or scrapped; and on those that are fit for purpose.