Edward Davey MP
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment Relations and Consumer & Postal Affairs
‘The Government’s Consumer Agenda’
11th July 2011 – Lunch, 1.00 pm to 3.00 pm Host – Genworth Financial
Venue – The Mayfair Hotel, Private Suite 1, Stratton Street, W1J 8LT
Sir Michael Craig-Cooper thanked Genworth for the lunch and making this meeting possible. He also thanked Edward Davey MP for agreeing to speak and announced that he was the first ever Liberal Democrat Minister to speak to the Forum. Sir Michael then handed over to David Lane (Genworth) who set the meeting in context and explained why his company was so interested in what the Minister had to say.
The Minister started by outlining his responsibilities: Royal Mail and Post Office; markets and mergers proposals and anti-trust; competition policy framework and review; trade policy (working with Steven Green and covering ‘multi-lateral stuff’; European relations competitiveness council and employment and social affairs council; the Single Market Act and its burden on SMEs (the Minister has invited 30 member states to come to UK with the intention of forming a like minded group on EU group. He believes there are some real signs of change across Europe in this matter); the Mary Portas High Street Review; the Insolvency Service; and Consumer Affairs in general.
He went on to explain that Consumer Affairs doesn’t have a lot of money and he wants to use it by deregulating rather than regulating. The department’s Consumer Review is effectively abolishing Consumer Focus and giving those powers to CAB, leaving one single consumer advocacy body rather than plethora that exists at the moment. The intention is to be effective and efficient, saving money by doing more with less.He went on to discuss the Planned Scope Review and its impact on OFT and Trading Standards and their targeting and then covered the ‘My Data’ programme. The idea behind ‘My Data’ is to work with industry to release the data that they hold on individuals at the individuals’ on request. There are working groups working on privacy, security and cost etc. In this the Government is an enabler not a regulator. It wants to explore ways and ideas how such data can be used and developed further.
Finally, the minister mentioned the work being done to enable Home Insurance to be bought collectively to help lower income households who could not afford premium if they bought as individuals. The idea is to work with organisations in this sector to develop a market that isn’t there at the moment.
In the general discussion with members the Minister answered fully and frankly questions on inter alia: the impact of State unloading its obligations; aligning the business approach to consumer policy with customer policy and financial services; the long-termism review; the private sector and Health and Education provision; carbon monoxide regulation; and UK deregulation versus EU regulation.