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7 priorities for this quarter

23 January 2017, Jo Prowse, Chief Executive
7 priorities

I hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year. With the festive period a fading memory and everyone back at work, I want to set out some of our priorities for the next three months.

Here are our seven areas of focus for this quarter.
1. Implement and monitor new Special conditions
On 4 January, the new Special conditions for online competition and online adult services came into force. We introduced the additional requirements to address concerns we had with how these services were operating and are monitoring how effective these requirements are in driving down market issues. Many of you will know that we still have a couple of issues to iron out here, namely exploring alternative options for double opt-in and opt-out processes. We will be working with you to get the requirements right so that they meet consumer expectations and are workable for industry. Expect to hear back from us on this in the next few months.

2. Review Guidance on consent to charge

Due to market developments and outcomes from a number of recent tribunal adjudications, we are looking at our existing Guidance on consent to charge. With the market moving so fast, we feel it’s the right time to review our requirements to ensure they remain fit for purpose. We will work closely with industry to assess this and will come back to you with proposals should changes be required.

3. Undertake research into consumer complaint journeys
We have just commissioned a piece of research into customer care and complaint handling in the market. We know it can be a source of frustration for both consumer and industry. That is why we are looking into consumer experiences and expectations of the post-purchase complaint process. The research should provide us greater insight into consumer care and redress post-purchase and help us identify areas for improvement.

4. Look at market trends
We are assessing our approach to identifying future trends and how as a regulator we may need to respond through what we have termed Project Horizons. Understanding future trends in the market is crucial to ensure we are best placed to protect consumers and encourage and best facilitate responsible competition and innovation. This work is in its early stages and we will be refining the project’s scope in the next few months as work progresses.

5. Assess effectiveness of sanctions

Last year we introduced our 14th edition of our Code of Practice. The main changes to the new Code related to our investigations, procedures and sanctions. As the new Code has been in force since June 2016, we want to ensure that the new procedures and sanctions imposed are meeting their objectives and reducing bad practice in the market.

6. Continue to collaborate with industry
Over the last two years we have worked hard on developing a solid platform of engagement with industry. We will to continue this through:
•    extending our programme of formal and informal engagement
•    undertaking a stakeholder survey,
•    increasing intelligence gathering from research and monitoring activity, including an enhanced Annual Market Review,
•    looking at exemptions to the Code, and opportunities for promoting market growth and the availability of services to consumers.

7. Engage with Government and other regulators
We are already working with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the EU Regulatory Framework and Digital Economy Bill and will continue to do so. The Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) is another important focus and we will be looking for industry engagement in response to the HM Treasury consultation.

Ofcom has an important consultation underway on the General Conditions of Entitlement as they relate to consumer protection.  These do affect phone-paid services directly and we will be working closely with Ofcom on that consultation.

We are also intending refreshing the way we work and share information with other regulators such as the Advertising Standards Authority, Information Commissioner’s Office and Gambling Commission. This work may lead to revising and developing our information sharing arrangements called memorandums of understanding.

Finally, looking ahead to the next financial year, our proposed Business Plan and Budget 2017/18 consultation is out for consultation with the deadline for responses the end of this week. If you have not done so already, have a look and make sure you send any responses to us by Friday 27 January.

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