UK Government

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: Better Regulation Reviews Into VOSA, FERA and HFEA

Press Release   •   Dec 03, 2009 11:33 GMT

New reports into the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) published today by the Better Regulation Executive found that they have made, or are taking, positive steps to put better regulation principles into practice.

The reports, part of a series of reviews of national regulators, examined how the HFEA, VOSA and FERA matched up to the principles of effective regulation set out by Philip Hampton in 2005.

FERA, which was newly formed in April 2009 to support and develop a sustainable food chain and natural healthy  environment, demonstrated good  compliance with better regulation principles in several areas. The review found the regulator to have a largely risk-based approach, had made progress reducing the number of forms and was working closely with business to develop practical approaches to dealing with EU regulations. It also highlighted areas for the Agency to develop, including new and innovative ways of getting specialist advice and guidance to all of its stakeholders and improving communications with stakeholders

VOSA provides a range of licensing, testing and enforcement services with the aim of improving the roadworthiness standards of vehicles, regulating a sector that includes more than half a million goods and heavy good vehicles, more than 80,000 public service vehicles and around 19,000 MOT centres. The review found that VOSA had a significant level of compliance with Hampton’s principles, understanding its customers well, and communicating and consulting effectively with them, especially the harder to reach elements. The review noted some areas that could help strengthen VOSA’s performance, including agreeing  a formal communications  strategy that would help  structure its stakeholder contact and some improvements to the administration of its new fixed penalty scheme, that would speed up payment of fines and free up staff time  and resources.

HFEA, who primarily licence and monitor UK clinics that offer in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and donor insemination (DI) treatments, and all UK based research into human embryos, regulates a growing sector with more than 100 licensed clinics in the UK. The review found that the HFEA demonstrated good compliance with better regulation principles, having established effective stakeholder communication channels, a body of staff well regarded by the industry and a good record on transparency publishing the results of inspections on its website. The report drew out a number of issues for the Authority to follow up including exploring how it can use the full extent of sanctions available to it and making better use of targeted, unannounced inspections.

Notes to editors

  • The Better Regulation Executive’s full reports on FERA, VOSA  and the HFEA can be found at www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/bre/inspection-enforcement/implementing-principles/reviewing-regulators/HIR%20Reports/page52313.html
  • The review teams were drawn from the Better Regulation Executive within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the regulatory sector including the National Measurement Office, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, Natural England and Companies House.
  • The Hampton Implementation Review process, that will examine a total of 36 national regulators, follow two independent reports by Sir Philip Hampton and Professor Richard Macrory on making inspection and enforcement of regulation more effective.
  • The Hampton Review in 2005 - led by Sir Philip Hampton - recommended an end to the one size fits all approach to regulation and that regulators should take a risk-based approach to enforcement and information gathering. Among its findings were that regulators should carry out inspections only when needed and avoid unnecessary form-filling and duplication of effort or information.
  • In 2006 Professor Richard Macrory's review of penalties for failure to comply with regulatory obligations recommended that regulators should focus on outcomes, rather than action.  He recommended that sanctions should be aimed at changing the behaviour of non-compliant businesses and eliminating any financial gain from non-compliance.
  • Examples of how individuals and businesses are benefiting from changes to regulation can be found on www.betterregulation.gov.uk. The site also invites suggestions for what else can be done to reduce red tape.
  • Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

    The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is building a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this it will foster world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS - Investing in our future.

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