The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has confirmed that it will merge the Competition Commission (CC) and the competition functions of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to form a single competition and markets authority, improving efficiency and increasing clarity of government work.
This new body, without a name as yet, will be responsible for merger regulation, market investigations, plus cartel and antitrust cases. The move is designed to strengthen the competition regime, streamlining procedures, making it less burdensome and delivering cost savings.
The government has also carried out a review of the landscape of consumer protection bodies to rationalise their functions and eliminate confusion and duplication, strengthen local delivery, and produce a more effective service for consumers at a lower cost to the taxpayer. The government will publish a consultation early next year with proposals to streamline and transfer the functions of Consumer Focus, and other consumer bodies, and transfer its functions to the Citizens Advice service. Most consumer enforcement will pass to local authority trading standards.
Vince Cable says. "Consumers are represented by a bewildering array of public, private and voluntary bodies, which often duplicate efforts to inform, educate and advise consumers of their rights. Our aim is to create a simpler structure with a single competition authority and a stronger role for front-line consumer services."
The Competition Commission has been very active in attacking lenders for unfair practices in the sale of payment protection insurance. Consumer Focus has been responsible for changes in the financial services industry, pursuing a super-complaint against the banks for their sales tactics on financial products.