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Government must move to ensure regulators keep pace with post-EU, technological and social changes

15 September 2021

In its report published today, the Public Accounts Committee highlights the challenge for the UK’s regulatory regimes in keeping up with the rapid pace of change in many sectors. It says it’s “not clear that government and regulators are equipped” to meet a series of oncoming and significant challenges as they take on roles previously carried out by European regulators, and try to adapt quickly to rapid technological and social changes that include increased focus on the climate emergency. It says UK regulators have been too slow to innovate and “do not have a good enough understanding of the costs and benefits of regulation”.

However, some regulators have been agile and responded swiftly in the pandemic, to continue to meet their objectives while also aiding the response to Covid19, such as the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA’s) work to authorise a Covid vaccine, and rapid collaboration across regulators on the safety requirements for personal protective equipment. The Committee urges the Government to learn the lessons from these key regulatory successes during the pandemic and replicate them across UK regulatory bodies.

Chair's comment

Dame Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “Poor regulation has serious human, economic and environmental consequences: from the Grenfell tragedy to the miss-selling of pensions, regulatory failures have played a part. But as we have seen during the pandemic, regulators can move fast.

With the rapid changing challenges of new technology there is a danger that regulators will be behind the curve of current and future threats and they need to be able to adapt quickly to these new challenges.”

Further information

Image: Parliamentary copyright