By Claire West

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills today announced proposals to strengthen the competition regime by bringing together the Competition Commission (CC) and the competition functions of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to form a single competition and markets authority, improving efficiency and increasing clarity of Government work.

These proposals are part of the Government-wide work to increase the transparency and accountability of Public Bodies, announced by the Minister for the Cabinet Office this morning.

This new body would be responsible for merger regulation, market investigations, cartel and antitrust cases, as well as a number of functions with respect to the regulated utilities. The move is designed to strengthen the competition regime, streamlining procedures, making it less burdensome and delivering cost savings. A final decision will follow a full public consultation in the New Year.

The Government has also carried out a review of the landscape of consumer protection bodies to rationalise their functions and eliminate confusion and duplication, strengthen local delivery, and produce a more effective service for consumers at a lower cost to the taxpayer. The Government will publish a consultation early next year with proposals to streamline and transfer the functions of Consumer Focus, and other consumer bodies, and transfer its functions to the Citizens Advice service. Most consumer enforcement will pass to local authority trading standards.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

”Consumers are represented by a bewildering array of public, private and voluntary bodies, which often duplicate efforts to inform, educate and advise consumers of their rights. Our aim is to create a simpler structure with a single competition authority and a stronger role for front-line consumer services.”