New Starters / Leavers

New Starters / Leavers

Minutes of RPC meeting
Monday 14 September 2015
BIS Conference Centre, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET /
Chairman / Secretariat
Michael Gibbons
Committee Members / Apologies
Nicole Kar
Jonathan Cave
Alexander Ehmann
Jeremy Mayhew
Martin Traynor
Sarah Veale
Ken Warwick
Minutes of the Previous Meeting and Matters Arising

New Starters / Leavers

  1. The Chairwelcomed new members of the Secretariat to their first Committee meeting.

Stakeholder update

  1. Meeting with Oliver Letwin MP – The Chairmanmet Oliver Letwin on 2 October. A productive meeting to discuss the better regulation agenda and role of the RPC following appointment as the independent body as required by Section 25 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act. Mr Letwin explained the role of the RPC was to continue to analyse and scrutinise the assumptions and supporting evidence to determine the validity of all numbers. He reinforced his commitment to the current role of the RPC – that it should continue toscrutinise consultation as well as final stage impact assessments, the definition of the problemand the need for government intervention, continue to scrutinise and validate non-qualifying regulatory provisions,small and micro businesses assessments, and review the consideration of alternative options to regulation for example i.e. to maintain the current level of scrutiny.
  1. Media / Communications Update – The Committee were informed of the appointment of Christine Townsend as the RPC’s new press officer and media adviser. Christine brings with her a lot of private and public sector experience and is a specialist in digital communications and social media.

Governance and Audit
  1. The Committee reviewed the BRE / RPC ‘governance and audit’ self-assessment document. It is a technicaldocument to review the RPC’s delivery mechanism and its governance arrangements. The purpose of the document is to draw the findings of the assessment to the Committee’sattention, specifically to share the expected standards for public bodies, andto ensure that the RPC is fulfilling its obligations as a public body.
  1. The overall assessment is good with predominantly ‘green’ and a limited number of ‘amber / green’ ratings.
  1. The assessment has identified only minor areas of improvement. The Committee should focus on its strengths. Actions to address areas for improvement are being taken forward by the Secretariat.

Quarterly Update
  1. The quarterly update aligns with the RPC satisfaction survey of departments that have engaged with the Secretariat, and Committee, on opinions. The key message from the survey is that the RPC is performing well against agreed metrics. In addition, the latest survey results show a high level of ‘customer satisfaction’ with the RPC by departments. The results show continued improvement in the number of cases scrutinised on time, but a slight increase in average turnaround times. High figures for clarity of process, but a slight dip in clarity of opinion.
  1. The document also sets out an action plan which the Committee is invited to agree. The key actions:
  1. Develop RPC expected standards for key elements of assessments. These standards will form one part of a new RPC guidance document to sit alongside the BRFM.
  1. Work with BRE to reduce the number of times the RPC sees submissions.
  1. Improve the dissemination of new methodology decisions. The aim will be to communicate these in a more timely fashion.
  1. Continue with and evaluate the initial review notice (IRN) pilot.
  1. Set up a Whitehall facing web portal. This will facilitate the dissemination of some the changes mentioned above. For example recent methodology decisions, companion to the BRFM and the RPC ‘offer’.
  1. The Committee welcomed the report and approved the new format.
  1. The Committee considered the results of the survey. Questions were raised as to whether RPC expectations on what departments have to do to secure a ‘fit for purpose’ opinion are being clearly communicated and whether a greater level of outreach to those departments that are less successful is required. This early on in the new Parliament, there is an expectation that performance may dip. BRE have not run any introductory IA training courses yet as the new framework is to be agreed– this is the one opportunity where the role, function and systems of the RPC should be captured and explained to officials.
  1. The results showed that fewer than 25% of departments use the RPC’s case histories document. While the document sets out the Committee’s decision making process and the outcomes, a clearer understanding of why it is used so little should be helpful. A large document of this type would be improved by including specific internet links to key documents, improving and making it easier to search.
  1. The Secretariat is keen to ensure that the survey results do not dip below 70% and ideally improve. Due to a relatively small sample size, these figures can be affected by a small change in scores. RPC turnaround times peaked over the survey period. We have seen the average turnaround time dip more recently.
  1. The Committee agreed the action plan.

Framework Update

Better Regulation Framework

  1. The Committee were informed of the latest developments and progress with ministers to agree the better regulation framework. Ministers have made a number of decisions, with some still yet to be agreed. For example, ministers have agreed the appointment of the RPC as the independent body pursuit to the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act, rebasing of the impact assessment calculator and continuation of statutory review and sunset clauses.
  1. The Committee raised concerns that delay to decisions does risk increasing the backlog of work to ensure all proposals are consistent with the requirements of the new framework. The expectation is that any retrospectiveactivity is not likely to be onerous.
  1. Progress on clarifying the scope of regulators and their relevant actions to be included in the framework and business impact target was sought by the Committee.


  1. A submission had been put to Oliver Letwin MP seeking a steer on how the better regulation framework could be streamlined to alleviate the burden on departments and the RPC. The outcome was a ‘streamlined status quo’ – maintain existing functions subject to robust scrutiny while minimising resource implications. Various options were put to Mr Letwin and the better regulation ministers.
  1. Ministers agreed that fast track proposals would be reviewed once by the RPC at the end of the policy development cycle. Departments will determine which proposals qualify for the fast track.

Corporate Governance
  1. The Committee discussed corporate governance documents that will need to be agreed with BRE. In addition to a revised Terms of Reference and Corporate / Business Plans, the Secretariat has developed an ‘RPC Offer’ document. Although not a formal governance document, it explains how the RPC and departments can work together effectively in a bid to ensure the efficient scrutiny of impact assessments.
  1. The Committee welcomed the document and suggested that an equivalent document aimed at the business community and civil society organisations.