Supporting business

Business regulation

We want to make it easier to do business in Scotland by improving our regulatory environment and making Scotland more competitive.

Better Regulation

Our Better Regulation agenda aims to reduce unnecessary burdens on business by ensuring all regulation follows the Better Regulation principles of being:

  • proportionate
  • consistent
  • accountable
  • transparent
  • targeted only where needed

The principles of Better Regulation apply to all regulation – whether it be voluntary or statutory.

Better Regulation is supported by a range of measures including:

  • Business and Regulatory Impact Assessments (BRIAs)
  • voluntary regulation
  • the Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act 2014
  • the Scottish Regulators' Strategic Code of Practice
  • the Regulatory Review Group

At the outset of any policy development, non-regulatory options such as voluntary regulation should always be considered and a BRIA completed to ensure the costs and benefits of each option are fully considered and compared and BRIAs inform the decision making process.


Joint Taskforce on Business Regulation

The Joint Taskforce on Business Regulation was established in late 2022 in response to concerns raised by business due to the “cost crisis” and was announced in  in the November 2022 Emergency Budget Statement by the former Deputy First Minister, John Swinney. The Taskforce provided a forum to discuss concerns and consider steps to take to mitigate the impact of upcoming regulations and address stakeholder concerns. The Taskforce then transitioned to become Subgroup 1 of the New Deal for Business Group.

New Deal for Business

The New Deal for Business Group was announced as part of the First Minister’s Policy Prospectus on 18 April 2023. The Group has 5 working Subgroups. Subgroup 1 – Business Regulation, formally known as the Joint Taskforce is co-chaired by the Minister for Small Business, Innovation, Tourism and Trade and Councillor Gail Macgregor. The objectives of this Subgroup are:

  • to support in the identification of areas of improvement within the processes of regulation development and implementation, and ensure the process and guidance developed are as efficient and effective as possible
  • to review the BRIA process to improve consistency and better implementation of regulations;
  • to consider arrangements for stakeholder discussion of specific regulations in the medium to long term, in line with the previous Better Regulation approach and work of the Regulatory Review Group
  • to provide reports of its discussions and recommendations, including reports to respective Scottish Ministers on the work of the Subgroup and its outputs.

This group and it’s working groups will work together to deliver the recommendations as set out in the New Deal for Business Group: progress report and recommendations which published in June 2023.

Business and Regulatory Impact Assessments (BRIAs)

Business and Regulatory Impact Assessments (BRIAs) help to assess the likely costs, benefits and risks of any proposed primary or secondary legislation, voluntary regulation, codes of practice, or guidance that may have an impact on the public, private or third sector.

Partial BRIAs should be carried out and published at the consultation stage. The final BRIA should build on the partial BRIA as well as the consultation analysis. Both of these BRIAs require Ministerial sign-off.

Following the New Deal for Business report in June 2023 it is paramount that a BRIA is started early in the policy development process, has business input via close engagement and is published.

The BRIA helps assess the impact of policy proposals that could lead to new legislation, as well as other changes such as voluntary guidance or codes of practice. BRIAs should be best practice even where proposals do not necessarily present additional burdens. In these cases the BRIA can either help confirm the understanding that the impact will be minimal or to help identify and address any unintended consequences which may come to light. The content of a BRIA should be proportionate to the problem involved and the size of the proposal.

Voluntary regulation

We sometimes sponsor voluntary regulation, where industry groups create their own agreements, pledges, codes of practice, certification and accreditation schemes to regulate behaviour or standards.

We support the approach to Voluntary Regulation set out in the Scottish Retail Consortium's Framework for Government Sponsored Voluntary Regulation.

Voluntary action should be explored before regulatory requirements are considered.

Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act 2014

The main purpose of The Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act is to further improve the way regulation is developed and applied and deliver consistent and proportionate regulation.

The Act includes provisions that support the Scottish regulators' strategic code of practice, which describes how regulators should apply regulatory principles and good practice to contribute towards sustainable economic growth.

Other regulators

We work with business, local authorities and other regulatory agencies to improve the regulatory and enforcement environment for businesses in Scotland.

For advice on better regulation contact the Scottish Government's Business and Better Regulation Directorate at

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