Looking ahead in the new financial year
28 March 2018, David Edmonds CBE, Chairman
Our Business Plan and Budget for the 2018/19 Financial Year have just been published, so I thought this was a good time to offer my personal perspective on the PSA and its work.
Twelve months ago, I outlined how the Board and I see the organisation: our vision is a healthy and innovative market in which consumers can charge, content, goods and services to their phone bill with confidence. And our mission is to protect consumers from harm, but also to further their interests through competition, growth and innovation.
Our vision and mission guide all that we do. We made good progress in fulfilling the first half of our mission in 2017/18. Complaints from consumers to the PSA halved from 2016/17, suggesting consumer harm has also reduced. We handled approximately 500 cases in the year, 4 in 5 of those being handled informally. But where necessary, we’ve continued to take firm action against those that breach the Code. In the coming year, the team in Canary Wharf will continue to take this approach. We are also looking to see how we can improve the post-purchase experience of phone-paid services through work on refunds and ADR, as well as a review of subscription services, which continue to be a disproportionate cause of consumer complaints.
As I’ve said before, effective regulation both protects consumers and allows markets to innovate and flourish. Put another way, that’s regulation that is flexible where it can be, but robust where it needs to be. Last year, we supported innovation through a registration pilot available to Level 1 providers and we opened a consultation a new regulatory regime for society lotteries wanting to benefit from phone payment. It’s an approach we will continue this year. Where we can, we will look to support providers that want to bring services to market that consumers want. I know Jo and the team are always open to hearing from you.
Reducing the cost of regulation
One of my personal priorities as Chairman has been to ensure that we operate as efficiently as possible while being sufficiently funded to fulfil our statutory role. Regulation should not be an excessive burden – financial or otherwise – for service providers or mobile network operators. The Board and I are proud of the progress we’ve made. Over the past three years, we’ve brought the cost of regulation down by 20% in real terms - our budget for 2018/19 represents a further 4% cut in real terms on the previous year.
We’ve also made the commitment to give our industry funders clarity and certainty. Last year, we committed to hold the total amount to be funded by the levy to £1.875 million until 2020/21. We’ve not only achieved this, but we’ve gone further this year by reducing the amount required by the levy to £1.8 million. We’ve also committed to keeping the Code as is until 2020/21, unless we absolutely must change it. We hope this gives industry regulatory certainty.
I hope we can continue to work together to ensure that the industry operates in the interests of consumers over the course of the next twelve months. On behalf of the PSA Board, I’d like to wish you success in the year ahead.