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Making better regulation, making regulation better?

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Better Regulation is a re-regulatory strategy that has unfolded in Britain (and, of course, beyond, through Europe and the OECD) across the past decade. This article beings by setting out some quantitative indicators of trends in national and local enforcement in three key areas of protective regulation – food hygiene and food safety, workers’ health and safety, and pollution control – from 2003/2004 to 2012/2013. It then goes on, in its main sections, to detail some of the ways Better Regulation under conditions of austerity has worked through at the level of local enforcement via a case study of four Merseyside Local Authorities; in so doing, it draws principally upon qualitative insights from a series of interviews, as well as data gleaned from a further series of Freedom of Information requests. In so doing, it considers how, on the ground, Better Regulation is made. It concludes that Better Regulation appears less about ‘better’ regulation, more about business-friendly regulation with diminishing law enforcement. There is good reason to suggest that regulatory functions will likely be increasingly re-cast as part of growth initiatives.
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Keywords: Austerity; Better Regulation; enforcement; food safety; local authorities; occupational health and safety; pollution control; regulation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Social Policy and Criminology, The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK

Publication date: July 3, 2016

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