The idea of ‘consumer engagement’ has become a central theme in UK economic regulation. Regulators are demanding it, regulated companies are claiming to be pursuing it – but nobody quite knows what ‘it’ (i.e. consumer engagement’) might actually represent. So what does research on consumer engagement tell us?
In our recent Policy & Politics article on Customer Engagement in UK water regulation, we argue that the idea of consumer representation in UK utility regulation is, of course, not particularly new. The ‘old’ age of publicly owned utilities was characterised by a range of consumer representative bodies. While some managed to survive into the age of privatisation, the key emphasis has been on relying on regulatory bodies themselves to play a consumer representation function since the 2000s. But since the late noughties, putting the consumer at the heart of regulation has become a central theme in UK utility regulation and water regulators in the UK have recently experimented with different mechanisms of customer engagement. Continue reading Should regulators engage consumers in decision-making? Lessons from UK water regulation→
Joseph Drew (University of New England, Australia), Bligh Grant (University of Technology, Australia), Josie Fisher (University of New England, Australia)
One of the remarkable features of public policy debates generally is their predictable shape.
A recurrent example in the Australian context is municipal amalgamation. In one corner stands state government, arguing that amalgamation will result in the greatest happiness for the greatest number, with this “happiness” measured in financial savings. In the other corner stand a collection of voices—in particular local government itself—vehemently opposed to amalgamation.
The Commission is launching its report at a round table event at the Institute for Government on 3rd March 2016. The report offers some reflections on the process of decision making around the devolution deals to date. It draws on the shared learning and experiences of key actors involved to identify elements that have worked well and also potential areas for improvement. It concludes that the devolution agenda offers a real opportunity to empower local areas, boost economic productivity and improve public services. Yet, there is a danger that the initiative will falter in the absence of greater clarity around process and enhanced local ownership of decision making. Continue reading Devolution to English cities is not sustainable without greater transparency and legitimacy in decision making→
Cécile Hatier from the University of Wolverhampton gives us an overview of her latest article, which discusses when it’s appropriate to resign from office…
Politicians are constantly vilified for their lack of moral principles, and rightly so, given the outrageous actions of some! We get frustrated because they turn back on their promises the minute they get into office, and are driven by political expediency, if not selfish considerations, instead of the public interest. I won’t even start listing examples, the press rages about two or three cases a day in the UK. It is no surprise then that when Continue reading Should our principles always guide our actions?→