OFT Annual Plan – Focus on economic growth
The OFT's Annual Plan for 2011/2012, published on 31 March 2011, set out its priorities for the coming year and in the context of budget reductions of 25% over four years.
The OFT is particularly focussed on its ability to deliver 'more for less' with an unsurprising focus on key sectors for economic growth and those most likely to impact on UK consumers. This will include continued work on areas across the financial services sector, including the ongoing work on developments in retail banking and personal current accounts. Alongside the work looking to merge the competition functions of the OFT and the CC, the OFT will also continue to develop proposals to transfer its consumer credit functions to the new FCA. In this regard, the OFT plans to off-load some of its responsibilities to the ever-expanding FSA regime and will have less direct involvement in financial services.
The OFT says it will focus increasingly on other strategically important sectors, not least public sector markets. In addition, its main drive will be continuing to ensure greater compliance with competition and consumer laws through a high impact enforcement regime. This will be supported by the work the OFT does looking at particular markets with a view to influencing and changing behaviour where these markets are not working well.
Given the ongoing consultation on a possible merger of the OFT with the CC to form a new single competition body, this could very well be the OFT's final fling as an independent competition body.