Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Businesses get greater say on how regulation is enforced

The Fresh Produce Consortium and the National Farmers’ Union have been selected to run reviews under Business Focus on Enforcement. 

Business Minister Matthew Hancock yesterday (28 July 2014) hailed a change that puts business in charge of driving reform as he approved bids by business bodies to review enforcement of regulation in their sectors.

In a significant shift, business groups will collect and present evidence directly to ministers and to regulators. In response to each review’s findings, in the first instance the fresh produce and livestock farming sectors, departments and regulators will propose how they will address the issues identified during the reviews, lightening needless burdens without weakening essential controls.

Two trade bodies have been selected to run reviews under Business Focus on Enforcement: The Fresh Produce Consortium and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU).

Two reviews launched:

  • The Fresh Produce Consortium will investigate reports of high or inconsistent charges at ports on imports of perishable produce; inconsistency in service levels and delays; and emerging evidence that UK businesses are choosing to present shipments for import clearance at other points of entry in the EU because they can obtain a cheaper, more efficient service overseas.

  • The NFU will gather evidence from stakeholders including farmers to investigate claims of reported duplications, overlaps and inconsistencies in visits to livestock farms by national and local regulators. Starting with farmers’ own experiences, it will seek evidence of, for example, processes and equipment checked, and data requested during local authority visits.

After a period of evidence gathering which will run until autumn 2014, the Fresh Produce Consortium and NFU will report their findings direct to ministers and regulators.

Business Minister Matthew Hancock said:

We are changing the way Whitehall works, listening directly to business to help them grow, create prosperity and jobs. Businesses will now have the power to lead the reform of counterproductive, time consuming or bureaucratic enforcement of regulation that can get in the way of growth.

Putting reputable private sector experts in the driving seat will help us improve the way regulation is enforced without compromising standards. It is all part of our unambiguously pro-business agenda to increase the financial security of the British people.

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Liz Truss said:

Food and farming is our largest manufacturing industry and it is vital that our high quality products continue to be competitive. We’ve already helped farmers by cutting the number of dairy inspections by 8,000. However, I am determined to cut red tape even more so our farmers can grow their businesses and the rural economy.

NFU Deputy President Minette Batters said:

This is an important new initiative which gives businesses a greater role in reviewing the impact of the way regulation is enforced. We look forward to working with the Better Regulation Executive over the coming months, in gathering evidence and presenting our findings.

Nigel Jenney, Chief Executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) said:

We welcome this innovative approach by UK government which allows industry to highlight key areas of concern and to present vital evidence on issues. We are delighted that FPC has been successful in being selected to undertake this review.

We are keen to carry out our review of the impact of charges for official controls on fresh produce imports. FPC members have raised with us problems they experience and we want to take this opportunity to investigate further and present the findings to the minister.

Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, acts as a champion and advocate for Business Focus on Enforcement.

Terry Scuoler said:

The way that regulation is enforced and applied can be more time consuming for business than the regulation itself. Putting businesses at the forefront of reform means that change will be informed by invaluable first-hand experience of the hurdles and burdens that poor enforcement can cause.

Business Focus on Enforcement builds on the successful Focus on Enforcement programme by giving trade associations and representative business groups the dominant role in identifying enforcement issues and driving reform to benefit their industries. Previous Focus on Enforcement reviews have led to more business-friendly enforcement in sectors including childcare, chemical manufacturing and for coastal investment projects and developments.

Notes to editors

  1. The Business Focus on Enforcement reviews are funded through theMinisterial Contestable Policy Fund, set up to inject greater ambition, expertise, or a more creative range of options into the policy development process than would otherwise be available to ministers.
  2. In March 2014, industry groups such as trade associations were invited to bid to lead 1 of 3 ‘pathfinder’ reviews, allowing them to collect evidence of the impact on industry of current enforcement practices and challenge problems like duplicated paperwork, inconsistent advice or unhelpful guidance. The successful organisations will each receive a grant of up to £4,000 to contribute towards the costs of their projects. As a minimum, the review teams will match the funding from their own resources.
  3. The Fresh Produce Consortium is the UK trade association for the fresh produce and cut flower industry. Extensive membership covers the whole spectrum of the industry, including growers, importers, wholesalers, retailers, distributors, processors, packers, food service companies and other allied organisations.
  4. The NFU champions British farming and provides professional representation and services to its farmer and grower members and has a membership of 55,000 members across England and Wales.
  5. Focus on Enforcement reviews examine how regulation is delivered – whether through inspections, advice, or enforcement – rather than focusing on the design of the regulations themselves.
  6. A third review will be announced later in the year (2014).
  7. For more information about the new project, visit Focus on Enforcement
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