The Regulatory Policy Institute (RPI) is an independent, charitable organisation dedicated to the study of regulation and deregulation.

The Institute undertakes research on all aspects of regulatory policy. Some of this work is self-initiated and supported from general funds, particularly in areas where broad issues arise that may not, at the time, present themselves as 'problems' to any of the participants in specific regulatory processes. Other projects are initiated by grants or contracts to study a defined aspect of public policy.

The Institute operates a strict 'public domain test' before embarking upon projects: the authors must be able to make the results of any study available to the public or, if not, the study must be for a body with a public service remit (such as a government department, regulatory agency, inter-governmental organisation, charity etc.). Dissemination of research results may be via books, journals, discussion papers, reports, and the publications section of this website.

The Institute welcomes all types of support for its research projects (finance, participation, advice, etc.), at all levels of contribution. Those interested should contact the Managing Director, Julia Gibert, in the first instance.

Current short-term projects
Understanding barriers to entry, exit and changes to the structure of regulated legal firms

For the Legal Services Board and the Law Society of England and Wales

Peer review of the Australian Energy Market Commission’s assessments of New South Wales retail energy markets

For the AEMC.

Assessment of claw-back issues in electricity distribution in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes

For the New Zealand Commerce Commission.

The design of appeal mechanisms for different types of regulatory decisions

This is follow-on work from the 2012 Review of the Limits Merit Review Regime for Energy Networks commissioned by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism of the Australian Commonwealth Government. Currently supported from general funds.

Longer term programmes of work
Technology prizes to mitigate climate change

The focus of this work is the design of ex post prize systems aimed at providing rewards for innovations that have the effect of mitigating climate change.

There are a number of ways in which public policy can work to provide greater incentives for innovation, from funding of universities, through subsidies to the patent system. Each has strengths and weaknesses, but the collective weakness of traditional approaches appears particularly significant in the climate change area.

Ex post technology prize systems – which are to be distinguished from ex ante competitive bidding for subsidies – have a long but episodic history in public policy; and they have increasingly been advocated as either a partial alternative or as a complement to patent arrangements in pharmaceuticals, and in other research intensive endeavours. The design of prize arrangements is critical to the incentives that they provide, and the project aims to demonstrate both the feasibility and likely contribution of this alternative approach to stimulating innovation.

Welfare reform and the future of public services

In the early to mid 1990s, the Institute was engaged in several pieces of work that involved ‘thinking the unthinkable’, the replacement of the existing system of social welfare in the UK with arrangements that were less centralised, less standardised, and less coercive. This led to a number of papers and monographs, including Social Security and Friendly Societies (1992), Welfare, Mutuality and Self Help (1996) and On Welfare Reform (1997).

Current work is revisiting the themes of the earlier research in the light of changed political priorities and economic conditions in the UK, including the constraints and opportunities provided by a likely period of tight fiscal policy.

Contact: Professor George Yarrow