The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Office of Communications (Ofcom), The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), Office of Water Regulation (Ofwat), the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) and the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (UREGNI) have collaborated to form the UK Regulators Network (UKRN), created to improve coordination across regulated sectors.
Making the announcement on Wednesday, Ofgem, an independent National Regulatory Authority, reported that UKRN is expected to enhance investment and efficiency for the benefit of consumers across regulated services. It added that Monitor and the Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS) are participating in the UKRN as observers.
The new network will support the separate independent regulatory frameworks of the individual regulators, while bringing regulators together to work on significant cross-sectoral issues. The collaborative work will help to improve regulation and the promotion of competition, which in turn will ensure improved services for consumers.
According to Ofgem, the UKRN has three main objectives, which include improvements to the consistency of economic regulation across sectors; efficiency of regulation; and better understanding of how independent economic regulation works to benefit consumers, markets, investment and economic performance. The members of the network are committed to an ambitious programme of joint work on issues of cross-sectoral significance and applying lessons learned across sectors to improve the system of economic regulation.
Initially, the UKRN will focus on helping the progress of efficient multi-sector investment projects; promoting customer engagement and switching in regulated markets; assessing cross-sector resilience and cyber-security; and developing a clear understanding of the overall affordability of regulated services for consumers. Operational costs will be met by the participating regulators.
Richard Price, the inaugural chair of the group, chief executive of ORR, commented:
“UKRN is an opportunity for regulators to build best practice and to identify ways to deliver greater benefits for the consumers they serve. By sharing expertise and analysis across our regulated industries, we can get new insights and make sure there is a joined-up strategic approach which reduces regulatory burdens, gives investors greater confidence, and delivers better outcomes for consumers.
“Independent regulation has delivered significant benefits for UK consumers through improved quality, innovation, better prices, greater choice and better protection where competition is not yet viable. The UK’s track record in economic regulation is an enviable one. We have come together to build on these successes so that each of us, in our own sectors can raise the performance of independent regulation in promoting consumer interest, securing a stable environment for efficient investment and innovation and more effective dialogue with government.”