I’m delighted to be the private sector champion for DECC in its work on better regulation.
I wanted to write this blog particularly to urge everyone who has comments to make, to get them in before the closing date of 30th December. You can use website or e-mails. I would like to ask you to be as specific as you can possibly be so we can be quite sure about the regulation you are referring to and the problem you are experiencing. We’d be especially grateful if you could suggest ideas for improvement.
Smart regulation promotes competition, makes business more efficient and safer and makes for happier customers. Bad regulation, poorly enforced does the reverse. Getting regulation right is crucial for economic success and international competitiveness.
Just to avoid any doubt, there is no intent to change the commitment to tackling climate change. The exercise is about better means, not changing the ends.
I recently chaired a meeting of about 20 representatives of the energy industry at a kick off meeting. I also participated in a well attended webinar.
It was encouraging to see the level of commitment of the participants. They had a great deal to say.
A significant theme was making sure that small companies get the chance to enter the market and grow. There were examples of small companies feeling impeded from market entry because of the cost and sequencing of the steps in the application process. Grid connections were given as specific examples. There were also concerns about the costs and time for certification of products.
Everyone, including government of course, is keen to keep the administrative burden down. It was pointed out that the requirement for information is often built around each separate Act or regulation. This can lead to duplication and inconsistencies in definitions. There were strong pleas for all this to be simplified into an easier, single process for all needs. A specific example was that suppliers are repeatedly asked for customer numbers under different regulations.
Planning came up, as it does in every discussion on investment.
It was pointed out that some of the documentation, for example consultations, can run to hundreds of pages. For the producer and the user, there is clear benefit in keeping the word count to the essential minimum. There was also an understandable request that consultations should be more “open sourced”.
Pretty well everyone was unhappy with the Carbon Reduction Commitment. The government is right to be looking at this for radical simplification.
In addition to the details, there were some thoughtful general principles. A good argument was made that regulation should be focused on outcomes not on the details of activities. There was another suggestion that regulators should be required to consider economic growth.
Getting it right needs a lot of detailed knowledge and a dose of common sense. It also requires a really collaborative spirit between the regulator and the regulated. The door is open for smarter regulation. This is a chance that industry must grab. Please do take this chance to point out the problems and suggest solutions.