Why we need our regulators – and why we want to hear your views on what they do

Why we need our regulators – and why we want to hear your views on what they do

From food to transport and from the environment to utilities, societies and economies rely on effective regulation.

Regulation underpins and facilitates all our economic activities and interactions and plays a key part in fostering consumer choice and technological innovation.

Regulation is also essential for protecting human life, upholding the rule of law and conserving our natural environment, as illustrated by the recent Boeing air crashes, current concerns over the state of UK forensic science and the 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal.

Effective regulation requires both the right frameworks of rules and responsibilities, and, critically, properly resourced organisations to promote and enforce those frameworks.

That’s where Prospect members come into the frame. They all have expertise and experience that should be informing the design of our regulations. And many of them work in organisations whose job it is to uphold them.


Many of the UK’s regulatory agencies are rightly regarded as world-leaders in their fields. Their expert employees constantly work to:

  • identify emerging new risks to individuals, communities and the environment
  • adapt to a changing economy and technological landscape, and
  • improve their efficiency and effectiveness.

But their jobs have been made more difficult by recent policy trends. Since the 1980s, governments have placed great stress on reducing the alleged “burdens” on business of complying with regulations without adequately weighing the potential costs and risks of excessive deregulation to businesses and society.

This has been compounded by deep cuts to the budgets and staffing levels of most regulatory agencies as part of the government’s austerity agenda.

These issues will be made even more urgent by the UK’s exit from the European Union, which, depending on the form it takes, could open the door to a new wave of aggressive deregulation – at the same time as adding even more to the overload of agencies now faced with taking on functions and responsibilities previously shared with European bodies.

Prospect represents experts working for a wide range of regulatory agencies as well as industries, such as energy, communications, aviation or scientific research, in which regulation plays a particularly important role.

That’s why we want to make sure their voices are heard in the debate this country needs to have about what regulation should look like.

Your input

Whether you are a regulator yourself, or feel that regulation matters to your work, we would like to hear from you.

We need your insight and experience, so it would be really helpful if you could give us your thoughts on the following questions:

  • Do safety, environmental, or other regulations affect your working life? Do you see them as a benefit or burden? How could they be improved?
  • If you work in a regulatory body, do you believe the frameworks you are tasked with upholding are effective? How could they be improved?
  • What new challenges and opportunities do new social, economic and technological changes present to our regulatory frameworks and agencies?
  • Are the views of workers – employed in regulated industries or by regulatory bodies – taken properly into account? Could worker voice play a bigger role?
  • Does the increasing use of cost-recovery by regulatory bodies present risks or opportunities?
  • Should competition or private provision have a role in regulatory oversight or assurance?

If you have views on any of these questions, or would just like to be kept informed of Prospect’s work in this area, please get in touch by emailing martin.mcivor@prospect.org.uk

Martin McIvor

Martin McIvor


  • Martin

    The British Board of Agrément certifies the extent to which building products and systems comply with national building regulations. It's a voluntary processs but improves confidence for manufactureres and a range of stakeholders. In this sense we are interpreters of regulatory guidance. The Grenfell fire highlighted many issues surrounding the clarity of that guidance and many additional issue around ownership within the supply chain.

    Jon Mark Denyer

    29 April 2019 13:24

  • We need regulators to help ensure safety in all its guises. One problem I see is the economic regulators like OFGEM do not see safety or environmental concerns outside the green agenda as important. As a "guiding mind" I think OFGEM should stand in the dock alongside electricity companies when corporate charges are being faced. If OFGEM is demanding ever quicker supply restoration combined with ever cheaper (which always translates into fewer staff) costs, then surely they should share responsibility for encouraging unsafe acts. These acts may be bending rules or simply working excessively long hours. 

    Allan Holmes Wales

    24 May 2019 16:39

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