Looking ahead to 2019/20: Our business plan and budget

20 March 2019, Joanne Prowse, CEO of the Phone-paid Services Authority

Spring is upon us, and that means that, like most organisations, the PSA is now looking ahead to the new Financial Year. And we’ll being hitting the ground running, as we bring about a number of regulatory actions to the benefit of consumers.

We’re currently consulting on changes to how we expect phone-paid services paid for by subscription to be delivered, and we expect this will lead to consumers having far greater awareness of how and when recurring charges are being incurred. We’ve tightened our rules to prevent harm caused by potentially misleading advertising, and we’re also expecting to see consumer protection significantly enhanced by the application of high security standards to delivery platforms.

However, while consumer protection remains the utmost of our priorities, we also see the coming year as a major opportunity for consumer interests to be furthered through growth and innovation in the market.

Our new Business Plan for 2019/20 is based on the expectation that we will be regulating an increasingly healthy phone-paid services market, in which new players and new services enable a growing and more confident consumer base.

What this means is that, while we will of course continue to deliver fair and proportionate informal and formal enforcement of our Code, we will also look to move forwards in several different ways.  In particular, I’d like to draw your attention to our plans for the following areas of work:

  • we will be laying the foundations for a new Code of Practice. The 14th Code of Practice has been in place since 2016, and now is the time to start developing a new Code so that it remains as effective as possible in a changing market landscape.
  • we will be integrating the insights of our new Consumer Panel, ensuring we fundamentally put the consumer at the heart of everything we do
  • we will be emphasising the importance of all parties involved in the delivery of phone-paid services to make sure they only work with partners who act in the interest of consumers. We expect thorough due diligence at the contracting stage, and ongoing risk assessment and control – and we will use our powers to ensure consumers can engage with confidence with whoever they deal with
  • we are expecting the overall market to grow financially, as high-profile digital services increasingly offer operator billing as a payment option. We’ll be working with industry at senior levels to identify any issues that may hinder this growth in the interests of consumers.

Our budget for the year incorporates all of this activity, and through our ongoing commitment to ensuring value for money, we have been able to make a 1% real-terms saving compared with 2018/19.

Alongside this, and importantly for our industry funders, we have also been able to hold the overall amount of levy funding required to a consistent £1.8 million for the third year running. While this may not be sustainable in the longer-term, we know that this funding stability has been essential at a time of significant change in the phone-paid services market.

In summary, we think 2019/20 will be an exciting year for both consumers and industry, and we’ll be supporting both as best we can.  Here’s to a busy next twelve months!

Read the Business plan and Budget in full here.