Considering the impacts of regulation change on charities: The Regulatory Policy Committee

Laura Cox is a member of the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC), which provides the government with external, independent scrutiny of new regulatory and deregulatory proposals. She leads on the RPC’s engagement with charities and voluntary organisations.

Charities know regulation is important, but they also know badly implemented, burdensome rules can take them away from their core work.

The RPC works to make sure new regulations have been properly considered and the impact on charities and voluntary organisations is taken into account. We provide independent, transparent scrutiny to make sure the analysis that supports policy making is evidence-based and robust. The RPC’s current drive to improve the analysis of impacts on charities is an important aspect of our remit as an independent scrutiny body.

What is the Regulatory Policy Committee?

The RPC is an independent committee which scrutinises the quality of evidence and analysis supporting new regulatory and deregulatory proposals from across government. The Committee is made up of eight independent members from business, civil society, the legal profession and academia. We scrutinise proposals that are likely to have a direct impact on businesses and charities of over £5m annually. Proposals under this threshold are currently self-scrutinised by departments.

It is our statutory role to check the estimates departments and regulators make of the costs of new regulation to business and charities, and provide opinions to departments. Those impacts can include, but are not limited to:

  • familiarisation costs, eg reading new guidance
  • annual costs, such as monitoring and reporting
  • one-off capital costs, such as having to purchase health and safety equipment.

Departments submit impact assessments to us at both pre-implementation and post-implementation stages, and can optionally submit to us before running public consultations. We provide opinions on whether or not each impact assessment is ‘fit for purpose’ to support the decision to proceed with the proposed regulatory change. We give a ‘red’ or ‘green’ rating reflecting our view and provide detailed comments on the quality of the analysis. Pre- and post-implementation stage opinions are made publicly available on our website.

Making sure impacts on charities are properly assessed

All proposals should go out to public consultation. This provides businesses, individuals and organisations the opportunity to submit their views on what the impacts of the proposal might be. Evidence collected at consultation will support evidence gathered by the relevant department from academic studies, reports, and commissioned research.

Impacts on charities and voluntary organisations can often unintentionally fly under policy officials’ radar – that’s where we come in. The RPC comments not only on the robustness of the evidence underpinning assumptions, but also on potentially-missed impacts. At an early stage, the RPC can offer guidance to departmental policy teams on how best to gather evidence and ensure their analysis is holistic. If a department doesn’t gather sufficient evidence or doesn’t carry out a thorough analysis of the policy options, we comment on that in our public opinion and, depending on its severity, may issue a red rating.

We regularly work with stakeholders, including representative bodies such as NCVO, and are occasionally approached by individual businesses or organisations that are seriously concerned with specific regulatory or deregulatory proposals.

As an independent body, we welcome views from outside government. It helps us better understand stakeholders’ perspectives, paint a more rounded picture and ensure the scrutiny in RPC opinions is balanced.

Our engagement with charities

Improving our engagement with charities and voluntary organisations, and the quality of analysis of impacts on them, is a current priority for the RPC. In recent months we have met with organisations including NCVO, the Charity Commission, and Equally Ours to explore how we can work together and improve engagement.

For example, we have recently worked closely with NCVO, to help make connections between department policy officials seeking evidence on impacts and organisations that can provide such information. We think that this kind of collaboration can positively impact the ways in which policy officials approach analysis of charity and voluntary sector impacts and is certainly a step towards improving it.

How you can engage with the RPC

Interested parties can contact us at regulatoryenquiries@rpc.gov.uk to arrange a meeting with our stakeholder engagement team, or to find out more about what we do. We also would welcome being side-copied into your consultation responses, and being contacted on an ad hoc basis if you would like to raise concerns regarding specific regulatory policies that will directly affect your organisation.

Further information is available on our website where you can also find our published opinions.

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