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UKRN Annual Conference 2019 – A Summary

The UK Regulators Network held its fourth annual conference on 24 April 2019. The event brought together around 140 representatives from UKRN members, government departments, think tanks and other stakeholders. This year’s conference was hosted by the FCA. COO Georgina Philippou opened up the day by welcoming everyone to their new Stratford premises, stressing the importance of new Stratford residents, such as the FCA themselves, working with the local community to share skills, experience and opportunities.

Jonathon Oxley, UKRN CEO, was the day’s first speaker, highlighting some of the key upcoming challenges and opportunities faced by all sectors including data and AI, vulnerability, uncertain financial and political outlooks, climate change and population expansion and challenges facing infrastructure investment.

CEOs of the FCA, Ofwat, CMA and ICO kicked off the morning with an exploration of the challenges and opportunities facing regulation. The discussion covered the challenges of climate change and population growth, Brexit, the increasing role of data and the pace of technological change. The increasing role of data in particular was raised as an area that poses both significant opportunities and risks and will increasingly require regulators to pull together. Brexit and its impact on regulators work was also raised as a big concern for a number of the regulators on the panel, in particular where it may result in additions to regulators powers. A common thread through all of these issues was vulnerability and the need to ensure that those who are less able to take advantages of the opportunities presented by these changes are protected.

3 panel sessions took place through the day, covering: harnessing the power of data to improve outcomes for consumers in vulnerable circumstances; competition, fairness and the limits of the engaged consumer; and innovation and the role of regulators

A range of five afternoon workshops provided an opportunity to share best practice and consider past studies from colleagues in other sectors. The workshops covered a variety of different themes and topics including, a cross sectoral sandbox, vulnerability policy, access to cash, quality of service and online targeting.

The conference closed with a Keynote speech by Martin Cave, Chair of Ofgem on regulation in a changing world. Martin’s speech focused on innovation and competition and how regulators have attempted to promote innovation in the past drawing on his experience across water, telecoms and energy.