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Last Updated: Friday, 7 March 2008, 16:24 GMT
Regulators face their own review
National Consumer Council logo
The National Consumer Council expects the review to last for a year
A consumer group has started a year-long review of the work of the UK's regulators.

The National Consumer Council (NCC) said it wanted to investigate whether the bodies were putting consumers at the heart of their decisions.

Regulators scrutinise a variety of industries from food and water, to energy and financial services.

Some have already defended their work, pointing to recent high-profile decisions, fines and investigations.

Championing consumers

The NCC said the process was in its very early stages. The probe had been prompted in part by the debate surrounding energy bills, a spokesman said.

Look at our record since the start of the year
Ofgem spokesman

"Too many consumers are being badly let down," said Steve Brooker, who is leading the NCC review.

"We would like to see regulators consistently putting consumers at the heart of what they do. There does seem to be a lack of scrutiny."

Regulators include the Financial Services Authority, which was recently criticised by a committee of MPs over the Northern Rock saga, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Food Standards Agency.

'Good record'

Regulators are keen to defend their records.

Ofgem has attracted a significant amount of attention this year, as energy companies raised prices for domestic customers.

Magnifying glass
There are a wide range of regulators in the UK

Last month it launched an investigation into the gas and electricity market for domestic customers and small businesses, shortly after British Gas owner Centrica announced large increases in profits.

It also fined the National Grid some 41.6m for restricting competition in the domestic gas meter market.

"Look at our record since the start of the year," said an Ofgem spokesman.

Communications regulator Ofcom said it had fought to make switching phone companies easier.

It has also tackled mis-selling of mobile phone services, and has been protecting the public from potentially harmful content on television.

"It is absolutely correct that all public regulators are subject to public scrutiny," said a spokesman.

"We have a extremely strong track record which we are happy to discuss with the NCC."

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