The UK pioneered economic regulation in the 1980s and 1990s, becoming a role model for others to follow. But now there are signs the regulatory models which emerged from the privatisations of utilities are facing a ‘mid-life crisis’, compounded by mounting tensions between politicians and independent regulators.
In partnership with the City of London Corporation, the Institute for Government brought together four leading academics and practitioners to discuss the most pressing challenges for economic regulation in the UK, and what we can learn from international experience.
The panelists were:
Chris Bolt – Advisor on regulatory issues to a number of companies and regulators and Chairman of the expert advisory panel to the UK Regulation Network. Some of his previous roles include Head of Economic Regulation at Ofwat (1989-1994), Group Director Economic Regulation at the Office of the Rail Regulator (1994-1998), Regulation and Corporate Affairs Director at Transco plc (1999-2002), and Chairman of the Office of Rail Regulation (2004-2009).
Jon Stern – Honorary Visiting Professor at the Centre for Competition and Regulatory Policy at City University, London and Visiting Fellow at the Cambridge Judge Business School. Panel Member at the Competition and Market Authority, and the Office of Road and Rail Academic Panel. Professor Stern has published a sizeable number of papers on infrastructure industries and their regulation in both developed and developing countries as well as co-authoring a major World Bank book.
Regina Finn – Director of Lucerna Partners, a consultancy specialising in regulation and public policy. Ms Finn was previously Chief Executive of Ofwat (2006-2013), Head of the Commission for Energy Regulation in Ireland (2005-2006), and of the Office of Utility Regulation in the Channel Islands (2000-2005). She worked for the Irish Government and as Deputy Director General of the Telecommunications Regulator in Ireland (1997-2000), and holds non-executive roles with Mutual Energy Limited and the Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authority.
Stephen Littlechild – Fellow at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, Emeritus Professor at the University of Birmingham. Professor Littlechild is a former member of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (1983 – 1989), and was the first Director General of Electricity Supply after privatisation (1989 – 98). He is now an international consultant on privatisation, regulation and competition, and has advised many regulatory bodies and regulated companies.
The event was chaired by Julian McCrae, Deputy Director of the Institute for Government.