UK Government

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (National): Government Response to the Risk and Regulation Advisory Council

Press Release   •   Dec 17, 2009 10:42 GMT

The Government response to the Risk and Regulation Advisory Council (RRAC) report: Response with Responsibility: Policy-making for public risk in the 21st century was published today by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The Government welcomed the RRAC’s report as a valuable contribution to the development of the better regulation agenda, and in refining its approach to risk. It accepted in part the RRAC’s three main recommendations and agreed to build on the RRAC’s work, aiming to embed its approach within the culture of policy making.

Key parts of the response included:

•           the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) will consider public risk as part of their scrutiny of government policy;

•           the Better Regulation Executive will encourage policy makers to engage with ‘risk actors’ - those groups that shape perceptions and responses to public risk – during the development of their policies; and

•           BIS will work with the Health and Safety Executive and others to take forward open research questions to help Government consider the appropriate response and responsibility for public risks.

Ian Lucas, Minister for Business and Regulatory Reform, said:

“Public risk affects every area of society, from health, finances, to the environment and safety. People feel strongly about public risk issues, and there is often pressure to react in haste when something goes wrong. The complexity of public risk and calls for urgent intervention can result in poor and ineffective solutions.

“The Risk and Regulation Advisory Council have moved the debate on public risk significantly forward, delivering practical results. Its findings reinforce the importance of considering the need for intervention, who is best placed to take responsibility for risk, and for effective risk communication.

“This Government response will build on our ambitious and wide-ranging regulatory reform agenda. It will help to improve policy making across government and transform the regulatory framework to deliver better outcomes for us all.”

Notes to editors

1.        The Government response to the Risk and Regulation Advisory Council is available at:http://www.berr.gov.uk//files/file54045.pdf

2.        The Risk and Regulation Advisory Council was set up by the Prime Minister in January 2008 to work with Government and stakeholders across society to improve understanding of public risk and how best to respond to it.

3.        The Risk and Regulation Advisory Council defines public risk as follows: “Public risks are risks that may affect any part of society and to which government is expected to respond”.

4.        The Council published a report of its findings with three recommendations on Government in May 2009.

  • Recommendation 1. The Government take on the Risk and Regulation Advisory Council’s analyses, thinking, approach and tools to improve its policy making.
  • Recommendation 2. The Regulatory Policy Committee should embrace issues across society, not simply in the narrow realm of business.  It should hold Ministers to account on whether or not actual rather than perceived risk is being considered in cost/benefit analyses; evidence-based consideration is given to understanding the system of forces playing on the risk in question; all voices are heard during the process of consultation, not just the loudest and most familiar; and the implementation process tackles any remaining gaps between perceived and actual risk.
  • Recommendation 3. The Government, as part of its current commitment to create the optimal risk and regulatory governance framework, should without delay establish an independent Public Risk Commission.
  • The final report can be found at http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file51459.pdf.

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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