Government consults on proposals to make technology work for utility consumer

Business Secretary, Greg Clark, has unveiled proposals of measures that bolster competition and regulation to ensure that new technology and data are used to bring better deals and better services in water and other markets and to protect users from unfair supplier practices.

The proposals – which are open to a 12 week consultation – are laid out in a Green Paper: Modernising consumer markets. In the paper the Government says the proposals are based on three principles described as:

• competition should be central to our approach and the government should always look to remove barriers to competition where they arise;

• consumers should benefit from new technology and new business models, with competition and regulation working together in the consumer interest; and

• consumers should be able to get redress when things go wrong and consumer rights are effectively enforced.

It said: “It is right that we review this regulatory model periodically, given the changing nature of markets and the development of new technologies and practices. For example, new ways of buying and selling services either individually or in bundles have emerged.

"The increased use of data has enabled companies to develop sophisticated, individual offers to consumers, but also means that companies know far more than they ever did before about our preferences, patterns of spending and engagement with the market."

The government itemised in the Green Paper its plans to carry out a statutory review of competition powers, where it will canvass views on whether the regime is:

  • delivering competition for the benefit of consumers; and

  • providing the CMA and regulators with the powers they need to curb anti-competitive behaviour and to manage emerging challenges.

It said it intends to encourage regulators to work together to provide consistency across different sectors.