Following the publication of Lord Tyrie’s recommendations regarding the future role of the Competition and Markets Authority, which he chairs, I wrote to Secretary of State Greg Clark, to express Which?’s full support for the proposals.
Dear Secretary of State,
Our consumer insight shows that people expect there to be a strong public enforcer in place to ensure that they are protected – whether from unfair trading practices, scams or companies abusing their dominant position in a market – these proposals would help to deliver a reality that matches these expectations.
Lord Tyrie’s assessment of the current challenges, particularly in terms of the issues raised by fast moving and complex markets and the limitations of “an analogue system of competition and consumer law in a digital age”, reflects accurately what we see through our work at Which?.
Indeed our recent report “Creating a successful enforcement system for UK consumers” also highlighted the current imbalance between local and national consumer enforcement – with far too much responsibility and prioritisation falling to under-resourced and predominantly reactive local authorities.
We stressed the need for fundamental reform, with stronger, national consumer-focused regulators to meet the challenges facing consumer markets.
We therefore fully welcome these proposals to ensure that the CMA is better equipped with stronger duties, powers and tools to be able to act swiftly to assure consumers that their interests are paramount and are being protected.
We also support the wider changes that these reforms would create, helping to create a stronger culture of compliance across businesses including the focus on responsibility at director and board level.
Alongside these reforms, we urge you to further expand the consumer enforcement remit of the CMA, enabling it to take a national lead in the enforcement of consumer rights, with strategic oversight of enforcement work undertaken at regional and local level and to make the most effective use of this new toolbox.
Addressing the imbalance
There is a real opportunity through these proposals and your Department’s ongoing work to deliver positive and tangible change to the benefit of people across the country.
Such reform would show a marked ambition from the Government on behalf of consumers and an opportunity to lead the way with this agenda both by addressing the imbalance that there currently is between businesses and the individual, whilst also building a system that is fit for the rapidly developing digital world.
It is vital that this opportunity is seized by your department as it furthers its work on modernising consumer markets and that meaningful reform is delivered in the near future through a legislative programme taking forward these changes.
Which? remains committed to working to deliver this and I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this further with you.
Anabel Hoult, Which? Chief Executive.
Let me know your thoughts
How do you feel about Lord Tyrie’s recommendations for the future role of the Competition and Markets Authority?
Do you agree with us that an expansion of the CMA’s remit is required to enable it to enforce consumer rights?
Let me know what you think in the comments below.