UK Government

Local Better Regulation Office: Report underpins value of local action against national threats

Press Release   •   Dec 07, 2009 11:29 GMT

A new report highlights the economic benefit to the UK from local regulatory enforcement action to protect business and the public from threats to the nation as a whole.

Addressing National Threats Through National Service Delivery, published by LBRO, the public body for better local regulation, considered areas where local enforcement officers carry out work that provides protection for the whole nation: imported consumer goods; mobile rogue trading; food safety and animal health.

The report includes a case study on the Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk that underpinned the Consumer White Paper published by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. By providing this evidence, LBRO advised Government to fund a pilot project to increase product safety testing of imported goods at major ports.

Trading Standards officers at ports such as Felixstowe are tackling £160m of potential harm to UK citizens and the economy. For every £1 spent on checking goods at ports of entry the country saves £35. The savings for consumers have been calculated through the costs associated with injury or death through accidents and house fires, and for business on the costs of product recall. This is a conservative estimate, based on a sample of goods entering the UK from outside the EU, such as electronic goods, toys and novelties.

Chairman of LBRO, Clive Grace, said: “The benefits of this local delivery are significant, effectively contributing to both local and national prosperity and protection. LBRO champions localism but here is a clear case for saying it should be supported at a national level.”

Much local regulation tackles issues that go well beyond the communities of the local authorities addressing them.  These local authority regulatory services must tackle issues on a scale which may be beyond their resources.   This problem has been recognised for some time but up to now there has been no systematic exploration of its scale or any firm and evidence-based proposals to deal with it.

LBRO’s exploratory work has been to develop a better understanding of the issue and specifically how local authorities deliver protection against risks that are national or regional in nature.

The benefits of local delivery of regulation are significant:  local delivery allows for effective tailoring of service provision; regulatory services’ contribution to place-shaping demands that are controlled locally; efficiency can be increased by delivering regulatory services through local partnerships; and local delivery creates in part at least a one-stop-shop for business.

To deliver these benefits without compromising national issues, we need to understand how the system of local delivery functions when faced with national threats. This is the first attempt at a systematic examination of this across the range of local authority regulatory functions.

The LBRO summary report - Addressing National Threats Through National Service Delivery - is available at www.lbro/publications-information.html. The full report is available on application.

Notes to editors

1. The Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) helps local authorities improve their environmental health, trading standards, fire safety and licensing services – reducing burdens on businesses that comply with the law while targeting those who flout it. It was incorporated as a government-owned limited company in May 2007. Following the commencement of the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 on 1 October 2008, it now operates as an executive non-departmental public body, accountable to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills through the Better Regulation Executive. LBRO is governed by an independent Board, has a staff of around 25 and is based in central Birmingham. Our remit covers the whole of the UK and we liaise closely with the devolved administrations to ensure our work in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is appropriate. For further information please visit www.lbro.org.uk

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