Labour will end regulatory backlogs to give the public access to life-saving treatments sooner

Labour will end regulatory backlogs to give the public access to life-saving treatments sooner 

Labour would set up a new pro-innovation body to set targets for tech regulators, to end uncertainty for businesses, turbocharge output, and boost economic growth.  

British innovators and businesses are developing new world-leading products and services, powered by technologies like artificial intelligence. But they face a mountain of red tape just to get started, which can mean requiring approval from up to 11 different regulators.   

Businesses currently face a huge delay in getting decisions on new products and services – the MHRA had a backlog of 966 clinical trial applications earlier this year. This means patients missing out on new life-saving medical treatments.  

Today, Labour is announcing a new Regulatory Innovation Office (RIO) tohold regulators accountable for these delays.  

The RIO will:   

  1. set and monitor targets for regulatory approval timelines, benchmarked against international comparators  
  2. provide strategic steers for what activity regulators should be prioritising, drawing on priorities from Labour’s industrial strategy  
  3. support a beefed-up Regulatory Horizons Council, with a new requirement for government to respond to its reports within a set time period   

These changes would speed up regulatory decisions, with benefits across the economy. For example, the new Office would help tackle the NHS backlog by accelerating the approval of clinical trials, delivering better access for patients to the latest treatments.  

This announcement comes on top of Labour’s commitment to reduce red tape and speed up decision-making in the research funding system. Together with our plans to unlock capital for start-ups and scale-ups, these changes would help make Britain the best place in the world to set up an innovative business.  

Peter Kyle MP, Shadow Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary said:    

“New technology can be used to grow the economy and deliver better treatments to patients. Good regulation is essential to build safety and public trust, but decisions need to be made quickly.  

“Whether it’s regulatory backlogs or red tape in the funding system, under the Tories our businesses and innovators face dither and delay, which mean many set up shop in other countries.    

“Labour’s Regulatory Innovation Office would make Britain the best place in the world to innovate by speeding up decisions and providing clear direction based on our modern industrial strategy. This will get the economy growing and give Britain its future back.”   



Labour will create a Regulatory Innovation Office (RIO) to improve accountability and promote innovation. It would bring together the Better Regulation Executive and the secretariat for the Regulatory Horizons Council, taking on their functions. In addition, it would take on the following functions.   

The RIO would set and monitor targets for regulatory approval for innovative products and services   

  • Many regulators currently set targets for the speed of processing regulatory approvals. Regulators such as the FCA and MHRA publish performance data on how long it is taking them to process regulatory decisions.   
  • Under this proposal, the RIO would set targets for regulatory decisions, which could be benchmarked against international comparators.   
  • The RIO would monitor regulators’ performance against these targets, collating and publishing data. This would make the regulators more accountable to the government, parliament and the public.  

The RIO would also set strategic priorities for regulators, so they can better prioritise activity.   

  • Labour will introduce a modern industrial strategy, for which regulation is a key lever. This industrial strategy will set clear priorities across the economy.    
  • Under this proposal, government will translate these industrial strategy priorities into specific steers for regulators. For example, the steer could prioritise regulatory approvals for a particular priority technology.  
  • This would allow regulators to speed up decision-making in key areas within their existing resource levels. 

The RIO would support a beefed-up Regulatory Horizons Council.  

  • The Regulatory Horizons Council was set up in 2019 to advise the government on regulatory reform needed to support the rapid and safe introduction of new technologies with high potential benefit.  
  • It was set up to help address the problem of innovations that are too rapid and cross-sectoral for existing regulators to effectively deal with.  
  • The Council’s work is seen as being of high quality. However, little attention has been paid to much of its work, which can leave UK regulation lagging behind our counterparts.