United Kingdom: Rethinking regulation

Author: Doing Business
Publication: Doing Business 2012
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The United Kingdom has consistently performed well on the Doing Business indicators—and this year again stands high in the ranking on the overall ease of doing business, at 7. But the new government believes that more can be done to relieve business from burdensome regulation. Because of the efects of the global financial crisis, the public sector has limited scope to use spending to enable economic growth. While the government has made the difficult decisions necessary to reduce the deficit and stabilize debt levels to create the conditions for sustainable growth, it has also adopted a complementary strategy based on the idea that by simplifying the regulatory system, it can free up the private sector’s capacity to innovate, diversify and expand.

Regulation has a role in the modern economy. A framework of rules is necessary to promote competition and stability and to ensure transparency in market interactions. Well-targeted and sensibly designed regulations can deal with market failures, promote a level playing field for businesses and support government objectives. The challenge is to do so in a way that does not impair the ability of businesses to operate, to create jobs and to grow.

Striking the right balance between these objectives can also create a better balance of responsibility between the state, the business community and civil society. Where regulation is needed, the U.K. government intends to more closely scrutinize how regulations are designed and enforced.