Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need to complete a Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA)?
The Scottish Government is committed to consulting with all parties potentially affected by proposals for new regulation, or where any regulation is being changed significantly. All policy changes, whether European or domestic, which may have an impact upon business, charities, the voluntary sector, or indeed public bodies, should be accompanied by a BRIA. In fact, we would always recommend and encourage the completion of a BRIA as best practice. The BRIA helps assess the impact of new legislation, as well as other changes such as voluntary guidance or policy changes, even where they do not necessarily present additional obvious burdens. In such cases it can either help confirm understanding that the impact will not change or identify and address unintended impacts which have not been identified. The content of a BRIA should be proportionate to the problem involved and the size of the proposal.
What is the purpose of a BRIA?
The BRIA helps policy makers to think through and analyse the costs and benefits of the proposed legislation. It also ensures that any potential effect on business, particularly small enterprises, are taken into account before regulations are made.
When should I produce a BRIA?
A BRIA is a continuous process to help you fully think through the consequences of possible and actual Government interventions: from the early stages of identifying a policy challenge, through the development of policy options, public consultation and final decision-making, and on to the review of implementation. When review leads to the identification of new policy challenges (perhaps arising from unintended consequences of the intervention itself), the process begins again.
Is a BRIA required for a de-regulatory or voluntary measure?
Yes. BRIAs should be carried out for any piece of legislation or regulation, whether mandatory or voluntary, and are still appropriate even where the proposals will reduce regulatory burdens or costs on business. In such cases, the BRIA can help confirm your understanding, or identify and address any unidentified impacts or concerns.
Is a BRIA required for legislation implementing EU directives?
BRIAs should be carried out for any piece of legislation or regulation, and are still appropriate where the purpose of the legislation is to implement European directives. In such cases, the BRIA can help ensure you fully understand the costs and benefits or identify and address any unidentified impacts or concerns. The content of a BRIA should be proportionate to the proposal and you may be able to use information obtained at earlier stages when the EU directive was being considered, provided that remains valid.
I’ve never carried out a BRIA before – is training available?
The BRIA toolkit provides information and guidance on how to complete a BRIA. Further advice and guidance is available from the Better Regulation team.
I have completed a BRIA and it has been signed by the appropriate Minister/Cabinet Secretary – what do I do with it now?
A copy should be emailed to the Scottish Parliament Information Centre when the regulation/legislation is presented to Parliament. Also one copy should each be sent to the lead Committee, Subordinate Legislation Committee, and the Parliament Legal Advisers where appropriate. Relevant details can be found on the Scottish Parliament website. A copy of the consumer and competition impact assessments should be sent to colleagues in the Consumer and Competition Policy Unit. You should also publish your BRIA on the Scottish Government website.
At what stage should I consult with business?
You should start your dialogue with businesses as early as possible. Your engagement with businesses should be recorded in the partial impact assessment which should be part of the consultation document.
How do I identify businesses to consult with?
You should consider any business contacts you or policy colleagues (including OCEA colleagues) working in a similar area already engage with. Trade Associations and Business Organisations should also be able to provide advice on appropriate contacts. The Competition Policy Team can help identify businesses that may be inadvertently affected by your policy. The Business Directorate of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills can also help identify suitable companies to consult with.
Do the businesses consulted need to be named in the BRIA?
There is no specific requirement to name them but you should include general information which explains the details of who you consulted with, and the feedback received. You should be as transparent as possible. It is advisable to discuss this with the businesses when you meet with them.
Does the business engagement need to be face to face?
Meeting with businesses in person to discuss issues establishes better relationships and encourages better understanding. Engagement should therefore be face to face unless there are exceptional circumstances.
How many companies should I engage with?
The BRIA requires you to engage with 6-12 business who are expected to be affected by the proposal. You should consider the characteristics of the businesses likely to be affected i.e. size, sector, ownership, geographical distribution, to ensure that your sample is representative.
What is a Consumer?
The Scottish Government defines a consumer as anyone who buys goods or digital content, or uses goods or services either in the private or public sector, now or in the future.
A consumer may also be known as or referred to as:
- Service user
When using this definition it is worth noting that a consumer may not directly purchase the good or services themselves – this is particularly the case in public services.
What would be a digital impact?
A digital impact would be one of the following:
A. The proposed change is to be delivered in an ‘analogue’ way, for example it may be a check that requires physical forms filled in by hand and posted. Services and interactions are increasingly moving online. The impact of your change could mean that it would need to be revisited, at cost, at a later stage when services move online.
B. The proposed change is to be delivered in an only digital way i.e. via a website – an online transaction - this would have an impact on those without access or capability to get online and may have a cost for both Government and the business or individual to support them to a stage where they can get online.
C. Should a change only apply in Scotland or according to Scots law, you must consider online transactions that may originate from outside of Scotland - how would the change be enforced?
D. Should a change include age restrictions – consideration would need to be considered around enforcement, roles and responsibilities in an online transaction process.
This list is not exhaustive however it gives an understanding of digital issues to consider.
Why do I need to consider digital / technological delivery and related issues?
Digital technologies are a central part of everyday life now. Over the past 10 years digital capabilities and uses have become commonplace. Consumers and customers expect easy, digital services. The explosion of smartphone use, online services and transactions both private (like banking) or public (like road tax) and innovative new markets and platforms like Uber and Amazon have changed the way in we live work and operate. If we do not consider digital / technological advances and their effect on or fit with our policies and regulations, then there is a risk of changes being made which quickly become unfit for purpose, and which may require revisiting and amending at a later date and at cost.
Email: Fraser Reid