Promoting competition, keeping prices down and removing regulatory burdens have been the remit of regulators for Britain’s key industries in the last decade. But the financial crisis has transformed the landscape for customers, industry and employees – with growing calls for greater market intervention.
Prospect this week brings together senior representatives from three regulators – Ofgem, Ofcom and the Civil Aviation Authority – with politicians, employers and union representatives to debate how to make regulation fit for the next decade. The event will focus on:
ENERGY: Recognition is growing that price regulation is not enough to deliver the investment needed for the future. Ofgem has spelled out options for a more interventionist strategy to deliver energy security and investment in low carbon (Project Discovery, February 2010). Unions believe the current market framework is inadequate for the challenges ahead and have argued for Ofgem to factor in safety, skills and infrastructure expansion in its decision-making.
COMMUNICATIONS: The Digital Economy Bill proposes new regulatory duties for Ofcom to look beyond market competition to promote investment and assess the fitness of the UK's communications infrastructure. Getting regulation right will be vital to securing investment in the network, to bring about high-speed broadband and to ensure the universal service commitment is made a reality. The market alone cannot deliver this progress. A direct role is needed for the regulator and government to ensure ‘uneconomic’ areas are not ignored.
AVIATION: The UK has some of the most congested and complex airspace in the world. But it still has one of the best safety records and delays remain at an historic low. Building capacity, enhancing safety and dealing with complexity demand long-term investment in training, staffing and technology. The UK is unique in that air traffic control is partially privatised and subject to economic regulation for ‘en route’ services. Again, the challenge is to ensure the service is funded to a level that allows for longer-term investment without compromising safety, service delivery and building capacity for the future.
The event takes place at the Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG on March 4. Please bring two forms of identification, including photo ID and this invitation. To attend, or receive more details about speakers and the programme, please email Sue Ferns – firstname.lastname@example.org