The government has recently published an update on its One in One out policy for regulation. On arrival in office the Coalition agreed that there is too much regulation. Some imposes disproportionate cost for the benefit, some is out of date or no longer needed, some can be counter productive.
Instead of adopting the idea of regulatory budgets with requried reductions in the cost of regulation every year as recommended in the Conservative Policy review, they decided on a One in, One out policy. Any new regulation had to be matched by the removal of one at least as burdensome. Overall they wanted to get the costs of regulation down.
They have so far reported on four six month periods. In three of the four periods they have removed substantially more regulations than they have introduced. Only in the first period did they fall short by two measures. Overall they have removed 69 and introduced 38.
More important than the numbers of regulaitons is the cost imposed. In the first six month period they reduced regulatory cost by £3.3 bn, in the second by £221 million, whilst in the third costs rose by £9m and in the fourth by £2.66bn. Their forecast for the whole One in One out period is for a net reduction in cost of £919m.
The government now wishes to accelerate the progress. They are changing policy to One in, Two out. That is good news. They still need to ensure that this results in a significant downward movement in total regulatory cost, preferably with an improvement in the beneficial impact of what regulation remains. It should be psosible to improve the efficacy and reduce the cost of regulation substantially, after years of fast and badly planned growth. It is a good area to achieve more with less.
None of these numbers, of course, include EU regulation. A full survey should do so. The UK government should be able to strip away loads of domestic regulations, as the EU progressively takes over many areas of law making from the domestic lawmakers. Looking at the figures, only the DWP has cut out more than £200m of cost, with a total saved of £681m. DEFRA and Business have both managed more than £100m each, but the rest have got nowhere. The Treasury, the lead economic department, has special scope to do so much, but for the time being seems to be making the overall tax system more complex, with ever longer legislation.