The growth of regulation in Britain since the 1980s has been haphazard but immense, spawning a profession of its own.
Criticisms about costs and excessive ‘red tape’ are familiar. However, recently, broader concerns have been expressed about service failures, particularly in railways and energy networks. The accusation stands that regulation is not delivering. This paper argues that the causes of regulatory failure are deep-seated, deriving in part from the willingness of governments to devolve decisions about the public interest to regulators, thereby creating a democratic deficit. This has contributed to a lack of credibility in the British approach to regulation, which has had negative implications for the cost of capital and short-termism in investment.