We regulate only where necessary to protect consumers’ interests. We carefully consider whether any regulatory requirement we are proposing to introduce is proportionate and necessary to protect consumers.
We prioritise all work within a cost control regime that ensures our expenditure growth remains at three percentage points below the retail price index.
We are committed to setting out the costs and benefits, as well as the social and environmental impacts of all major decisions, through Impact Assessments.
As part of our better regulation work we develop an annual Simplification Plan to help reduce the burden of administration while ensuring consumer protection.
In 2010, we made our second five-year commitment to an RPI-3 cost-control regime. This means we have to achieve real-terms savings of three per cent a year. The year to March 2012 was the second year of that commitment. So far, our savings add up to £4.9 million
The RPI-3 cost-control regime allows us to increase or decrease the overall budget cap to reflect major new pieces of work (or major reductions in our workload). If we need to change our budget, we need approval from our Audit Committee.
In 2011-12, the cost-control regime saw our budget cap reduced. Between 2012-13, we saw an increase in the RPI cap because of the costs involved in two major new pieces of work: implementing our Retail Market Review and administering the government’s new Energy Company Obligation scheme.
Responsibility for ensuring compliance with relevant legislation, licences and codes is the responsibility of the companies that we regulate. We are helping suppliers to learn from and better manage the risks that have historically resulted in enforcement or compliance action through lessons learned engagement activities.
We may also use compliance tools to deliver corrective action, where a compliance breach has already occurred. We have set out our approach and expectations in an Open letter on regulatory compliance.
While compliance activity plays an important part in our role as regulator, there will also be circumstances where enforcement action is the most appropriate course of action, to deliver corrective action and to deter future non-compliance.
Our role includes ensuring that energy companies comply with the law. To ensure that this happens, we have the power to conduct formal investigations and, where breach is established and where appropriate, impose a penalty and obtain suitable redress for the consumer. We can make orders (provisional and final orders) to prevent or stop breach and to secure compliance. We can also pursue alternative action (where a full, formal investigation is not deemed appropriate) and agree with the company concerned appropriate remedial actions and suitable arrangements for redress.
Our powers and our key policies are set out in our Enforcement Guidelines and our Statement of Policy with respect to Financial Penalties and Consumer Redress.
Find out more about our work from the Investigations section of our website and from our Enforcement Annual Reports and our Investigations and Enforcement Data pages, which provide details of our results.
We have a duty to undertake impact assessments for every important policy proposal we make. We have developed a rigorous approach to these in line with best practice, while ensuring that our decisions are consistent with our wider statutory duties.
While impact assessments do not determine the final policy decisions we make, they are a vital part of the policy-making process and provide a valuable framework for assessing the impact of important policy proposals.
We are committed to the principles of better regulation and continually seek to improve our efficiency and effectiveness. We publish an updated simplification plan on an annual basis. To find out more, see Corporate policy, planning and reporting.