British Business Secretary Greg Clark said Thursday, July 18, that competition rules must change as platforms and big data are disrupting the basic plumbing of markets – and despite the huge benefits they have brought, sometimes create new forms of harm, especially for ordinary consumers.
Speaking at the Social Market Foundation in London, Mr Clark said that ensuring retail markets in utilities “consistently work in the interest of all households” also presents “unfinished business” for government, competition authorities and regulators.
He said, “The CMA (Competition and Markets Authority), our regulators, government, our Parliament and our people collectively have the knowledge, pragmatism and experience to be winners at the economically crucial global competition to design the rules of competition.”
His comments came as the government set out its Strategic Steer for the Authority on the independent role it must play in championing consumers.
Mr. Clark praised the CMA in highlighting the “loyalty penalty” faced by many consumers, saying, “This government has responded extremely supportively to the CMA’s recommendations on the ‘loyalty penalty’. Business and their regulators must find ways to end the worst effects of these business models, and the companies involved should look to the energy industry as proof of our seriousness in the lengths we and regulators will go to if needed.”
He warned of the consequences of markets with limited competition. He highlighted the particular issues of the audit market, dominated by the “big four” companies. Recent reports have shown the concerns that have been raised about the quality of audits, including for some of the largest audit firms. Mr Clark announced a consultation of the CMA’s “powerful and compelling package of recommendations” to reform the audit market.
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