Understanding Regulation

Too Much, Too Little, Too Hard to Understand?

Regulators are now a vital and powerful part of the public sector. But there have been some dreadful regulatory failures, and the burden of regulation is getting heavier, not only for business but also for the police, teachers etc. - and for taxpayers who have to foot the bill. Are we over-protecting our children? And is 'the regulatory state' now too powerful?

This website aims to provide information about, and to analyse, these issues. It focuses on regulation in the UK and is written for the general public, journalists, civil servants, students and other non-experts. It therefore seeks to avoid technicality, whilst offering broadly accurate information and a balanced range of views.

You might like to begin by reading this introduction to all the various forms of regulation and regulator.

For more detail, the main sections of this website are described below, and can be accessed via the links on the right, and there is a detailed index here.

Key Issues

This section looks at the key issues that might be considered during regulators' Effectiveness Reviews, including regulators' accountability and independence, the regulation of large organisations, recent failures of regulation and what might be done to make sure they don't happen again.

Getting the Balance Right

The regulatory burden, deregulation and regulatory budgets.

And is competition always such a good thing?

Competition Policy

Price-fixing, abuse of dominant position, merger control, market investigations.

Utility and Network Regulation

Regulating monopolies, price controls etc.

Regulating Specific Activities and Industries

Airports, communications, consumer protection, education, energy prices, financial services, health, postal services, railways, supermarkets, water, etc.

Regulating Risks to Health and Safety

Science and risk, radiation and radioactivity, bse/vCJD and depleted uranium


An Introduction to UK Competition Policy (especially for economics students) is here.