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Regulation and consumer protection - An emerging opportunity for progressive politics

  • Date(s)
    15 May 2013
  • Time
    13.00 - 14.15
  • Location
Regulation and consumer protection - An emerging opportunity for progressive politics

Policy Network will host a lunchtime debate on "Regulation and consumer protection - An emerging opportunity for progressive politics" on Wednesday 15 May 2013.

Opening remarks
Shamit Saggar, professor of political science at the University of Sussex. Previously served on the Boards of the Financial Services Authority, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Law Society Legal Complaints Service (Chairman), the Better Regulation Commission, the Whittington Hospital Trust and the Peabody Trust.

Allen Simpson
, deputy head of public affairs, Barclays
Dianne Hayter, Labour member of the House of Lords and shadow spokesperson on Business, Innovation and Skills
Gregg McClymont, Labour MP and shadow pensions minister
Richard Taylor, head of Investments Policy Department, Policy, Risk and Research Division, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

Patrick Diamond, senior research fellow at Policy Network and former Head of Policy Planning in 10 Downing Street and adviser to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown

*Note - This event was rescheduled from 24 April to 15 May due to unforeseen circumstances

In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis there is a widespread feeling that financial regulators were wholly ineffective in curbing the excesses of financial markets. Executive pay rose to inappropriate levels regardless of contribution without adequate regulatory oversight. In utilities markets, consumers have grown increasingly frustrated at rising prices and the perceived decline in service standards. In key areas of public provision, sectors like health and social care have seen repeated examples of regulatory failure, more often causing harm to the most vulnerable.

Across the board, there is growing recognition of the costs imposed by inadequate regulation and that there exists space for a popular governing agenda which bears down on rising prices to offer consumer protection in childcare, financial services, housing, energy & pensions.

In his recent Policy Network paper on this subject, Saggar highlights that many regulators have in the past adopted an overly cautious and passive approach, giving citizens and consumers the tools to gain information about markets, but offering few mechanisms of redress where wrongs have occurred. Regulators have to be much more mindful of how they can prevent failures from occurring at the outset, while tough penalties are more likely to prevent repeat offences. Saggar points out that regulatory policy will always be integral to a centre-left governing strategy and that that social democratic renewal is fundamentally dependent on thorough and credible understanding of the capacity of existing regulatory architectures.

Questions for debate
• How can the centre-left use the consumer protection agenda to strengthen public trust in politics (and regulation)?
• Does a regulation strategy that takes the imbalances between users and providers in markets and public services offer a convincing account of how social democratic governments can tackle the injustices which markets create without damaging economic growth and living standards?
• What might such regulation look like?

Further information

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