What is regulatory burden?

Regulatory burden refers to the cumulative impact of government regulations and administrative requirements on businesses, organisations, and individuals. In the UK, regulatory burden is a significant concern for businesses as it can impede growth, increase costs, and create administrative complexities.  

Reducing regulatory burden is a complex task that requires a careful balance between ensuring regulatory compliance and creating a supportive business environment. The aim is to strike a balance that protects public interests, maintains high standards, and promotes economic growth and innovation by minimising unnecessary administrative burdens and providing clarity, consistency, and proportionality in regulatory requirements. 

Our position

  1. Collaborating with other retail associations, both small and large, to strengthen the industry's collective voice and enables a unified approach to address regulatory challenges
  2. Highlight the need for new processes to have minimal impact on operations while ensuring compliance

Read more in the additional information section below. 

What you can do

Keep us informed by letting us know of any current issues, opinions or updates. Email membership@bira.co.uk. 



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Key aspects

Costs of Compliance: Compliance with regulations can impose financial burdens on businesses. This includes costs associated with implementing and maintaining necessary systems, hiring compliance staff or external consultants, obtaining licences and permits, and participating in regulatory inspections or audits. The costs of compliance can be particularly burdensome for SMEs, which may have limited budgets and fewer resources to allocate to regulatory matters.

Regulatory Reform: Recognising the impact of regulatory burden on businesses, the UK government has initiated regulatory reform efforts to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and streamline regulations. This includes initiatives such as the Red Tape Challenge, which aims to identify and remove or simplify outdated or excessive regulations, and the Regulatory Policy Committee, which provides independent scrutiny of the evidence and analysis supporting regulatory proposals.

Advocacy and Engagement: Business associations and industry groups such as Bira play a crucial role in advocating for regulatory reforms, engaging with policymakers, and providing input on the impact of regulations on businesses. These organisations work to ensure that regulations are proportionate, effective, and supportive of business growth while also maintaining necessary safeguards and protections. 

Compliance Requirements: The UK has a wide range of regulations and compliance requirements that businesses must adhere to. These include regulations related to taxation, employment, health and safety, environmental protection, data protection, consumer protection, and more. Compliance with these regulations often involves time-consuming administrative tasks, record-keeping, reporting, and ensuring ongoing adherence to standards.

Complexity and Volume of Regulations: The regulatory landscape in the UK can be complex and ever-changing, with a significant volume of regulations, statutes, and guidelines to navigate. Keeping up with the evolving regulatory environment and understanding the specific requirements applicable to a particular industry or sector can be challenging for businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with limited resources.

Administrative Burden: Compliance with regulations often involves a range of administrative tasks, such as completing forms, submitting reports, maintaining records, conducting audits, and responding to regulatory inquiries. The administrative burden can be time-consuming and costly for businesses, diverting resources away from core activities and hindering productivity and innovation. 

Additional information

It is important for retailers to operate professionally and within the bounds of the law. Regulations surrounding the sale of age-restricted items, such as tobacco, alcohol, and bladed items, are in place to protect public safety and prevent harm. However, retailers sometimes feel burdened with the responsibility of solving broader social issues through regulation, which can add complexity to their operations. 

Engaging with relevant authorities and staying informed about new regulations is essential for retailers. By actively participating in consultations and providing feedback, retailers can influence the development and implementation of regulations, ensuring that the burden placed on smaller retailers is minimised.  

There are specific areas that retailers need to monitor closely to manage regulatory burden effectively. Examples include upcoming schemes like deposit return schemes, extended packaging responsibility, and extended producer responsibility. These initiatives aim to address environmental concerns and encourage more sustainable practices. However, it is important for retailers to navigate these requirements in a way that minimises the impact on their operations and ensures compliance. 

The retail sector faces an ongoing challenge of reducing the impact of regulatory burden. While it may sometimes seem that the government is increasing the burden, actively engaging in consultations and providing constructive feedback allows retailers to shape regulations in a way that is reasonable, practical, and proportionate to the needs of the industry. By working together, retail associations can advocate for a balanced approach that considers the interests of retailers, consumers, and society as a whole.