Few official reports get a response that matches that received by the recently published Stern report on climate change. It was both lauded and rubbished.
In the autumn of 2006 a bid by the Better Regulation Commission (BRC) to prompt a debate about our increasingly risk averse culture was well received. Yet at the same time a tragic incident in which a baby was killed by a dog prompted widespread calls for more regulation, another Dangerous Dogs Act.
These are just two examples of the context in which local councils have to carry out their regulatory responsibilities. It is a contested area of public policy. And it is one on which both businesses, individuals and communities depend for reasons of health, equity, vitality and financial viability.
For many years local government’s regulatory services have had a relatively low profile. That looks set to change. In part because of the contested nature of the policy background and in part because of changes in society.
A study on the future of local governance carried out for the then Office of the Deputy Prime Minister by the Tavistock Institute (All Our Futures, London: ODPM 2006) concluded that a key change in society between now and 2015 would be greater diversity and difference within and between communities. In that context the study identified regulation and licensing as a major function of local governance and argued that these functions would have an increasingly high profile and greater political salience.
This policy paper is intended to explore the implications of this context and these trends for local government and its regulatory services. It draws on the findings of regulation for excellence: supporting LACORS, a study the Tavistock Institute has carried out with LACORS to help it think about what more it can do to support and drive improvement in local regulatory services, as part of the wider local government improvement agenda.