The Office of Fair Trading has hit out at the Government’s plans to shape the Consumer Protection and Markets Authority as a strong consumer champion.
At a conference held by thinktank Reform in London last week, OFT chief executive John Fingleton said although the new regulatory body should be consumer-focused, this does not necessarily mean it should be fighting for consumers’ rights.
He said: “The reform should be focused on making the market work and also encouraging confidence in the system as a whole, so I do not see any conflict between the CPMA’s regulatory role and its consumer focus. That said, I do not think the CPMA should be cast in the role of consumer champion. There is no shortage of organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and individuals such as Martin Lewis who are doing that work and championing consumer interests already.”
Fingleton’s comments contrast sharply with the Government’s stated objective for the CPMA.
In the Treasury’s consultation paper on reform of financial services regulation, published in July, the Government said the CPMA “will be a strong consumer champion” to ensure consumers are “placed at the heart of the conduct regulatory system and given the appropriate degree of priority.”
Treasury financial secretary Mark Hoban echoed this sentiment in his keynote speech at the Reform conference. He said: “Alongside a more secure regulatory base, we need a financial centre that works for consum-ers, one that earns their conidence and keeps them properly informed. That is why we are setting up the new CPMA. The CMPA will look at the conduct of authorised firms, whether prudentially regulated or not. It will, in effect, be a champion for the consumer because its primary objective is to ensure confidence in financial services.”