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35/09 26 March 2009
The OFT has today published its Annual Plan, setting out its priorities for the year ahead.
The plan promises a responsive approach in a fast-changing economic climate - with the OFT geared up to anticipate and rapidly address developments that could jeopardise consumer welfare or threaten competitive markets. Consumer credit and the financial services are highlighted as areas likely to require particularly close attention.
Download Annual Plan 2009-10 (pdf 370 kb).
The OFT's approach for the next 12 months follows four main themes:
Maintaining constant standards through high-impact work
In 2008, competition investigations carried out by the OFT resulted in the first ever criminal convictions against individuals for price-fixing offences, and in the consumer field the OFT continues to pursue the court case to test the fairness of unauthorised bank overdraft charges. The OFT will continue to promote competition and protect consumers - businesses and individuals will not able to use the economic circumstances as an excuse to disregard their legal obligations.
Responding to changing circumstances and events
The OFT is working to address the risks to consumers and businesses that the economic downturn may present. Regulation of consumer credit and financial services is increasingly important, for example, and the types of intervention the OFT uses may also change as a result of the recession. The OFT will be agile in deploying its resources to deal with shifting economic and social priorities.
Influencing the debate around competition and consumer issues
The OFT will seek to influence debate to ensure strong competition is recognised as a key driver in supporting economic recovery, and that effective consumer protection builds public confidence in markets. The OFT will continue to provide positive input into government policy in this context, and will actively engage with business and trade associations on issues such as self-regulation and compliance.
Working with partners
The OFT will further develop links with partners such as local authority Trading Standards Services and other government departments, as well as working closely with central government on issues relevant to the economic climate, such as consumer credit and priority sectors for future economic growth.
Philip Collins, OFT Chairman, said: 'These uncertain economic times require the OFT to be active, responsive and flexible in continuing to promote competition and protect consumers.
'The OFT will continue to take strong and decisive action where necessary to intervene in markets which are not working well for consumers, and will work closely with government, business and consumer groups to enhance public confidence in markets.'
1. The OFT Annual Plan 2009-10, and the OFT's response to the consultation exercise on the Annual Plan, can be seen on the Annual Plan page.
2. The OFT is required to publish an annual plan containing a statement of its main objectives and priorities for the year ahead. At least two months before publishing the Annual Plan, the OFT consults on its proposals. The Annual Report is published following the end of each financial year and provides a report to Parliament on the main activities performed during the period.
3. The OFT is committed to applying the principles of better regulation in all its work, and recognises the need to remove unnecessary burdens on business. To address this, the OFT has published its Regulatory Simplification Plan which describes the initiatives currently planned for the coming year. Download Simplification Plan (pdf 215 kb).
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