Headlines: November 13th, 2008

The first ever map of the UK’s local regulatory regime has revealed the enormous complexity surrounding the delivery of vital consumer protection and advice to business. The report from the Local Better Regulation Office shows that in some cases inspections alone can be carried out by up to three different local authorities – and it points to a need to simplify the system.

The Mapping of Local Authority Regulatory Services Landscape report says that local inspectors have to enforce 200 pieces of domestic legislation as well as European directives. They also implement policies from a dozen central government departments and 10 national regulators. In some cases they also have to enforce rules alongside these policies. The report found that responsibility for trading standards, environmental health, licensing and fire safety services is divided between more than 500 local bodies across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The map is the first to detail the extent of the complex web of relationships and responsibilities behind local advice, inspection and enforcement activity. The LBRO chairman, Clive Grace, said,” Local authorities have an exceptionally difficult and demanding job to do in enforcing the range of legislation they are responsible for with the resources made available to them. They have a key role to play not only in protecting society but in providing support to businesses in creating prosperity.”

Mr. Grace said the need to reduce the complexity of the system and to find an effective means of reducing unnecessary burdens on both regulators and those being regulated had emerged strongly from the research and would be a priority for LBRO. Noel Hunter, the chairman of the Board of the Trading Standards Institute said the challenge now was to make sure that the trading standards workforce was adequately supported to play its role in an increasingly complex arena and Graham Jukes, the chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, also welcomed the report.