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August 11, 2010

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Regulation watchdog’s role to be examined ahead of quango shake-up

The Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) is to be reviewed as part of the Government’s commitment to reduce the number and cost of quangos.

The review will also examine the purpose of, and continued need for, the functions performed by the LBRO and consider the options for future delivery.

The LBRO’s aim is to reduce unnecessary red tape for law-abiding businesses, in areas of environmental health, fire safety, licensing and trading standards, to allow greater focus on targeting rogue traders.

The organisation is an independent public body but is accountable to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) through the Better Regulation Executive (BRE).

Led by BIS and BRE staff, the review will examine how successful the LBRO has been in achieving its objectives of creating the conditions for regulatory reform at the local level, and delivering regulatory consistency for businesses, primarily through its Primary Authority scheme.

Welcoming the review, the LBRO chair, Clive Grace, said: “As an organisation, we are confident we can show we have been delivering on our promises. Our activity is initiating a culture change across the system that will lead to reduced burdens on business and better protection for our communities.

“However, we are very aware we have only just begun to unravel a complicated system and there is still a great deal to be done.”

This system involves more than 12 national regulators and government departments, and 433 local authorities delivering nearly 200 pieces of legislation.

The Primary Authority scheme ensures that businesses can access reliable and assured advice about their regulatory responsibilities to help them lower costs and reduce burdens.

According to LBRO estimates, the scheme could save businesses at least £32m a year, and the organisation is currently working with the BRE to examine if the scheme should be extended.

The BIS/BRE review team is due to present its recommendations for the LBRO to ministers next month.

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