Regulating for Growth

Regulating for Growth

  • The UK’s current regulatory apparatus, which is slow to adapt to emerging technologies, is holding back the UK’s tech superpower ambitions. 
  • Many innovators are looking elsewhere to set up new tech firms, due to Britain’s unsupportive regulatory environment.
  • Previous CPS research established that the net annual burden of regulation on business increased by £6bn in the 2010s
  • Unless the Government changes course, it is at risk of being left behind while the rest of the world reaps the rewards of technological innovation
  • Britain must embrace permissionless innovation and ensure that inventors, researchers, labs, universities, companies and entrepreneurs are asking regulators for forgiveness rather than permission


British tech firms are being held back by outdated approaches to regulation and heavy-handed red tape, according to a new report by the Centre for Policy Studies. 

‘Regulating for Growth’ by CPS Head of Tech and Innovation Matthew Feeney argues that an overzealous and antiquated attitude to regulating emerging technologies is impeding the UK’s ‘tech superpower’ ambitions. This culture of regulation will see the UK lose out on new jobs and economic growth. 

The report looks specifically at the history of a number of technologies, and the regulatory obstacles they faced. For example, it shows how regulations are hampering the use of drones for spreading fertiliser or energy firms using drones to monitor and maintain offshore wind turbines. 

It argues that the UK needs to reassess its culture of regulation. In particular, each regulator should adopt a ‘policy charter’ setting out the harms it seeks to regulate. As part of this, permissionless innovation should become the default – and to keep regulation up-to-date, all legislation should include a ‘best-before date’ at which point it should be reviewed and either scrapped or amended depending on its usefulness. 

By creating this kind of system, the UK can make its regulatory environment adaptive to new technology and open to new tech investment.

CPS - Thursday, 23rd May, 2024