PM calls for a better approach to the understanding and management of public risk

PM calls for a better approach to the understanding and management of public risk

DEPARTMENT FOR BUSINESS, ENTERPRISE AND REGULATORY REFORM News Release (2008/011) issued by The Government News Network on 16 January 2008

New Risk and Regulatory Advisory Council appointed to meet the challenge

The Prime Minister today appointed the Risk and Regulation Advisory Council (RRAC) as a key part of his drive to improve the way risk to the public – from public health to pensions – is understood and managed by government.

On taking office as Prime Minister, Gordon Brown stated his commitment "to ensuring policy-making benefited from a fuller and more rounded consideration of public risk". He asked the BRC (Better Regulation Commission) to make proposals to ensure "this ambition is embedded in real policy action, even when facing pressures to react to events." The BRC's report Public Risk – The Next Frontier for Better Regulation is published today. Its central recommendation is the establishment of the Risk and Regulation Advisory Council. The Prime Minister today accepted the recommendation and said:

"The issue of public risk is one of the most challenging areas of policy-making for any government. I have asked the Risk and Regulation Advisory Council to provide a catalyst for the change we need in the way policy is developed across all departments. I am pleased to offer my support to the Council as they embark on their work to improve public policy making."

Chaired by Rick Haythornthwaite, the new, independent Council has seven unpaid members, with deep experience in regulatory issues drawn from the public, private and third sectors, consumer groups and trades unions. The RRAC will take forward the UK's first ever work programme dedicated to understanding and promoting proportionate responses to public risk, particularly when faced with event-led pressure. Its Terms of Reference are:

* Working with Ministers and senior civil servants to develop a better understanding of public risk, and how best to respond to it, through a series of workshops which consider both good and poor practice

* Working with external stakeholders to help foster a more considered approach to public risk and policy making

* Ministers may also seek advice on particular issues from time to time.

The RRAC will report to the Prime Minister. The initiative, led by No 10 and managed by BERR and its Secretary of State John Hutton, will be pan-governmental and cover public, voluntary and business sectors. The workshop-centred programmes will focus on specific policy issues and be supported by research, teaching tools and a web-based community of interest. The choice of topics to be addressed over the next year will be finalised after consultation with stakeholders. Topics under consideration at present include obesity, regional regeneration failures, systemic risk aversion and aspects of corporate governance, as well as good practice from the recent approaches to pension issues and the animal disease outbreaks.

The RRAC has been asked to give its immediate attention to considering how best to ensure that policy responses to the frequent 'superbug' scares are timely, proportionate and effective.

Chair of the RRAC, Rick Haythornthwaite, commented: "The regulatory reform agenda has evolved and creating the RRAC is a natural progression from the achievements of the Better Regulation Commission. The RRAC will look at the process of policy-making from the outset to help improve regulatory decision-making at the source. The prize on offer to all is very considerable – accelerated improvement not only in regulatory burdens but also in broader policy effectiveness and the management of everyday risks. The BRC's Risk Report touched a nerve and put the spotlight on the relationship between risk and regulation, acknowledging that all parts of society are responsible for a disproportionate attitude towards risk. The RRAC's work will involve regulators, risk experts, Parliament, lobby groups, the media and the public; it will not solely focus on government but also work towards improving the quality of dialogue with the public on risk issues. We accept the PM's challenge with enthusiasm."

The RRAC will be supported by a team reporting to Vicky Pryce, Chief Economic Adviser and Director General of Economics at the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform as well as Joint Head of the Government Economic Service.

Notes to Editors

1. Members of the RRAC:

* Rick Haythornthwaite, Chairman (Star Capital Partners)
* Lynne Berry (WRVS)
* Philip Cullum (National Consumer Council)
* Tim Heymann (Kingston Hospital)
* Lord Jamie Lindsay (UKAS)
* Donald Macrae (Policy Reform Group)
* Sarah Veale (Trades Union Congress)

2. Background

Machinery of Government Announcement June 2007 Better Regulation Commission: "The Government believes that policy making would benefit considerably from a fuller and more rounded consideration of public risk. I have asked the Better Regulation Commission, building on its report "Risk, Responsibility and Regulation", to devise a structure and approach that ensures that this ambition is embedded in real policy action, even when facing pressures to react to events."

Better Regulation Commission reports available at