Page last updated at 00:00 GMT, Thursday, 26 February 2009

Regulators accused of 'dithering'

FSA building
The Financial Services Authority was one regulator under the spotlight

A watchdog has accused regulators of "dithering" instead of stepping in swiftly to protect consumers.

The 14-month review studied six regulators covering the food, water, energy, financial, communication and postal sectors.

Consumer Focus said the groups relied too much on on self-regulation, rather than direct intervention.

The report came after the head of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) said a regulation revolution was needed.

Lord Turner told the Treasury Committee on Wednesday that "light-touch" regulation meant it had not asked enough questions about the strategies of certain banks which went on to fail.

'Slow to act'

The Rating Regulators report by Consumer Focus pointed to "misplaced trust" in the market pushing companies to change their behaviour, such as customers switching energy suppliers for a better deal.

It also claimed that self-regulation was tried on too many occasions before the FSA stepped in to tackle loan insurance mis-selling.

"What the public needs are robust, decisive regulators who are not afraid to flex their muscles," said Steve Brooker, the watchdog's head of fair markets.

"At the moment, some regulators are seen as dithering and slow to act when it comes to protecting consumers."

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