Supporting economic growth and business - Business Works
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Supporting economic growth and business

Philip Collins, OFT Chairman After just over 40 years of protecting consumers and driving competition, 2013–14 will be the final year of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). Over these four decades, there have been fundamental changes in markets, in the issues that concern consumers and in the regimes for which we are responsible. But our commitment to improving the competitiveness of markets and empowering consumers has never faltered.

We have strengthened the focus on economic growth in this year‘s plan. Competition drives growth by encouraging innovation, increasing business efficiency and giving empowered consumers a wider range of products and services to choose from. More than ever, we see it as our role to seek out markets that are not working well and to tackle anti-competitive behaviour that stands in the way of growth.

Our goal is competitive, efficient, innovative markets where standards of customer care are high, consumers are empowered and confident about making choices and where businesses comply with consumer and competition laws, but are not overburdened by regulation. Effective competition and well-functioning markets drive the long-term productivity vital for economic growth without adding costs to business.

During the coming year, we will focus on three key objectives:

  • Maximising impact - through enforcement, market studies and influencing behaviour in markets
  • Supporting transition to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and
  • Developing staff and advancing performance, underpinning the OFT’s commitment to be in the best shape possible ahead of transition.

Particular priority will be given to five cross-cutting themes:

  • Protecting vulnerable consumers
  • The OFT will respond vigorously to market problems facing consumers who are vulnerable, whether as a result of the current adverse economic climate, or their individual circumstances.
  • Acting where pricing is used as a barrier to fair choice
  • The OFT will tackle instances where pricing is used as a barrier to fair choice, targeting business practices that seek to reduce competition, create complexity, or construct offers in a way that consumers would not expect.
  • Taking action in rapidly evolving, high-innovation markets where there is risk to consumers
  • The OFT will take action in developing markets where circumstances could result in significant consumer detriment; in particular technological advances, digital innovation, and the continued growth of the internet as a sales channel.
  • Helping make public services markets work well
  • The OFT will collaborate with government departments and public bodies to help frame and deliver services that work well for citizens and taxpayers.
  • Working more closely with regulators
  • The OFT will work more closely with concurrent regulators, laying the groundwork for the role the CMA will have in the future.

Our plans for this year are ambitious, keeping up the pace of our work while supporting transition to new regimes.

We’ve strengthened our focus on economic growth in this year’s plan. Vibrant competition between firms is a crucial factor for driving and underpinning economic growth, as it can have a positive impact on both efficiency and innovation.

We also aim to boost our efficiency and invest in our staff, underpinning the OFT's ability to take on important issues for consumers and in the economy.

For more information about the OFT and its work, please visit:
or follow the OFT on Twitter @OFTgov

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