UKRN Newsletter for July 2020. In this latest edition we provide an update on the UKRN’s COVID-19 response, detail the appointment of new UKRN CEO, Chair and full member, and feature an article on COVID-19’s effect on the aviation industry by Richard Moriarty, the CEO of the CAA.
The ongoing issues surrounding COVID-19 are having a profound impact on the consumers and citizens we serve, on our members, and the sectors we regulate. Ensuring consumers in vulnerable circumstances receive the support they need is central to the UK Regulators Network and is also a key priority for the FCA, Ofcom, Ofgem and Ofwat in their sectors, now so more than ever. Today the UKRN has published its response to an earlier call from government for greater consistency of experience for consumers in vulnerable circumstances. This reflects work we did previously with four of our members – the FCA, Ofcom, Ofgem and Ofwat – to identify the support that consumers in vulnerable situations, including those with mental health problems, cognitive impairments and dementia, should receive across regulated markets. It also identifies areas where we believe further collaboration across regulators could improve the experiences of consumers in vulnerable circumstances. The work that informed our response was completed before March 2020, when the government and regulators began publicising the steps they were and are taking in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. For information on the support available to vulnerable consumers affected by the current crisis please visit official regulator and government websites: FCA: https://www.fca.org.uk/firms/information-firms-coronavirus-covid-19-response and https://www.fca.org.uk/consumers/coronavirus-covid-19 Ofcom: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/policies-and-guidelines/coronavirus-information and https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/advice-for-consumers/stay-connected Ofgem: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/coronavirus Ofwat : https://www.ofwat.gov.uk/information-on-the-water-industry-and-coronavirus-covid-19/ Government: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19
The UKRN has published its Annual Report and Workplan for 2020/21 in which we set out what we achieved in the last year and how we will build on this to improve outcomes for consumers and the economy across the sectors our members regulate. The UKRN brings together regulators to collaborate to improve outcomes for consumers and the economy. In 2019-20 we increased our capacity, working with our members on a range of issues across infrastructure investment, data sharing and support for vulnerable consumers. Our Annual Report sets out some of the things we achieved in that year. In 2020/21, we will build on this, with a focus on three priority areas: Collaboration on infrastructure and investment; Using data to support consumers in vulnerable circumstances; Working better together. The ongoing issues surrounding COVID-19 are having a profound impact on the consumers and citizens we serve, on our members, and the sectors we regulate. In turn this is likely to change the timing and focus for some of our current projects, as well as necessitating new projects. We will be keeping our workplan under review and be ready to respond to events. While timescales and details of our work may change, we still expect the priority areas we have identified to remain relevant. At this time of national crisis, collaboration between our members on the issues facing the sectors they regulate is more important than ever.
UKRN Young Professionals Network (YPN) Newsletter for March 2020. In this latest edition, the YPN provides updates on three events it held recently: a Regulators in Focus event from Ofcom and Ofwat, an early careers event, and an event on Sustainability and Climate Change which featured presentations from Ofgem, Ofwat and Ofcom.
The 10 February event focused on how data and research has been and can be used to improve outcomes for consumers in vulnerable circumstances. A varied agenda shone light on the good work being done to support consumers in vulnerable circumstances, both in terms of research studies and practical solutions. The agenda also provided for some challenging Q&A sessions and the sharing of different perspectives. In combination with the Insight and Case Studies handout, the event’s objective to improve understanding of how outcomes can be improved through the use of data and research was achieved. The event was a strong demonstration of UKRN-led collaboration, bringing together over 120 delegates from a range of sectors and backgrounds, including representatives from regulators, industry, government, consumers groups and academia. The UKRN was able to facilitate working across UK markets and enable the sharing of experience and insight. The UKRN will continue to support cross-sector working and help to connect people within the vulnerability space. Insight gained on the day and from the pre-event survey will be invaluable in helping the UKRN to achieve its aims, particularly in relation to its planned research. The event also helped to highlight the work and purpose of the UKRN itself.
The UKRN, with the FCA, Ofcom, Ofgem, Ofwat and the Consumer Council for Water, have been working together to develop a set of performance scorecards to measure the customer experience across key sectors. Today’s publication, Moving forward together, brings together these scorecards from all four sectors. Each regulator has also published their template, plus links to more detailed analysis, on their websites. Transparent, high quality performance information is an important tool for identifying where consumers are being well-served and where performance needs to improve. Jonathan Oxley, CEO of the UKRN, said: “Understanding the experience of consumers across our sectors is a vital part of improving consumer outcomes. I am delighted at the ways in which our members have worked together, building on their extensive sectoral knowledge to create shared insight. I hope this project helps consumer groups and other interested parties recognise where consumer needs can be best served.” Ensuring regulators work together to measure and improve the consumer experience across our sectors is also a priority for government. Consumer Minister Kelly Tolhurst said: “Performance scorecards will be a welcome step for customers: providing them with trusted, impartial information to compare how well companies deliver for their customers. This will help people make an informed judgement about who should provide them their water, telecoms, energy and essential financial services – but it will also incentivise companies to improve their performance to attract customers and beat their competition. I will continue to work with the UK Regulators Network and regulators to expand the information available in the scorecards.” UKRN members, including the regulators involved in this project, will continue to work together to improve outcomes for consumers. For more information on the work please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today UKRN have published a new report: Considerations for UK regulators setting the value of debt beta. This reflects the commitment in our 2019 Cost of Capital Report to commission a short report on approaches to debt beta estimation and the link between debt beta and gearing levels. The report was carried out by CEPA and is a review of the methodologies used to estimate the debt beta, and of the ways in which different regulators used debt beta in estimating the WACC. The report aims to identify key insights for future regulatory determinations. The UKRN’s cost of capital network will work closely together to reflect on this analysis, as well as continuing to bring together experts from across our member regulators, ensuring that our work in this area is aligned where possible and sharing knowledge and best practice.
Jonathan Oxley’s opening remarks from the fourth UKRN-LTIIA joint seminar on infrastructure regulation, hosted by Pinsent Masons on 10 September 2019.