© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: John Penrose arrives at British Prime Minister David Cameron’s first cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, Westminster, London.
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s competition regulator should play a bigger role, becoming a new consumer champion, according to a government-commissioned report released Tuesday. The report, written by John Penrose, a lawmaker for the ruling Conservative Party, said there is currently no strong, independent institution responsible for the overall progress of competition, consumer rights, supply-side reforms, and productivity improvements. . “Given its importance to Britain’s economic growth and employment after Brexit, it is a major gap in our current regime,” he said. Penrose said the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) should fulfill this role, “becoming a microeconomic brother to the well-established public macroeconomic role of the Bank of England.” He said the CMA should publish an annual report on the “State of Competition and Consumer Detriment” that measures progress and problems in both areas in all sectors of the economy and in all parts of the country. The report also calls for the CMA’s civil consumer enforcement powers to be updated to align with its competency toolkit. Penrose was invited by the government last September to conduct an independent review of UK competition policy, to see how it could be reformed for the post-Brexit and COVID-19 digital age. Their report “Power to the People” outlines options to promote competition in the UK and improve consumer confidence. These include proposals to protect consumers from new types of scams and to ensure that they can expect fair treatment, especially in online transactions. UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the government would consider the report and respond in due course.