Independent Regulators need scrutiny

The public regard Ministers as responsible for many things, including areas where independent bodies have been given wide ranging powers. The independent Bank of England is responsible for keeping inflation to 2% but the public blame the government if inflation takes off and nothing appears to be done about it. The recent failure of U.K. monetary policy to keep inflation around 2% was entirely predictable and was the result of policy error, allied to a bad economic model of the economy and very optimistic inflation  forecasts from the Bank and Treasury. I have commented often on the troubles of too much money creation. Today my case is errors by other Regulators  are all too common. The government will be blamed for what they do wrong. All of them are creatures of Parliament, with management appointed by government and their costs underwritten by taxpayers.

Let ‘s take the case of the Water Regulator. Ofwat controls profits, prices and investment programmes. There has been recent justified criticism of too many dirty water discharges into rivers. You can blame the companies, but they would argue financial controls limit the amount of investment in additional capacity they can put in.The solution to dirty discharges is large spending on bigger pipes to handle growing volumes, which requires regulatory approval of the additional money needed to pay for it and of the physical works.

The water Regulator also helps limit the amount of additional capacity there is to treat and store clean water. Despite high levels of inward migration which argues for substantial extra capacity there has been a reliance on the stretch from old reservoirs. As a result whenever we have a dry season the industry has to dust down rationing plans . Water is the ultimate renewable resource, passing from rivers to sea and recirculating through rain. The U.K. Water Regulator has not served us well over quantity of water supply and over cleanliness of water returned to rivers.

The Electricity Regulator and grid led system keeps us very short of domestic generating capacity. It means we are stupidly dependent on an energy short EU to bail us out in times of high demand and or poor supply. The Regulator has also presided over the bankruptcy of too many electricity supply  companies, landing taxpayers with a big bill for the largest that went under. Doesn’t  this warrant a review? We could do with more private investment in providing reliable power from domestic sources, and reassurance that there will not be future large bail out bills.

The Regulator of Offshore oil and gas has interpreted their brief as rapid rundown of the  U.K. North Sea in pursuit of net zero targets. Unfortunately this just means we import more gas from abroad which costs us far more and entails the production of more CO2 than burning our own. There are now indications of a welcome change of approach. Gas is a crucial transition fuel this decade. We need to do far more to produce our own at a time of gas shortage and the use of gas as a weapon by Russia. A good new policy will bring more U.K. private investment and more better paid jobs.

 

149 Comments

  1. Mark B
    August 4, 2022

    Good morning.

    As pointed out by our kind host, the BoE only prints money when the Chancellor of the Exchequer signs it off.

    The water companies should have never been privatised as they are a monopoly.

    The energy companies woes can directly be laid at the governments door. It was the government that brought in the price cap which caused all the trouble. It was the government that created the Climate Change Act and Net Zero which will ban fossil fuels in the near future.

    We are right to blame the government as it is government policies and interference that causes all the problems.

    The, ‘Not me guv’ trick isn’t working.

    Reply
    1. Nottingham Lad Himself
      August 4, 2022

      In some spheres the regulators are just another branch of the industry that they are supposed to regulate, and in the case of building regs we see the disastrous consequences of this with Grenfell Tower.

      The outsourcing dogma is at the root of this, and we know from where that comes.

      Reply
      1. Hat man
        August 4, 2022

        We also see this, lad, with the MHRA, which seems to see itself as a facilitator of new medical products rather than what it is, the body that’s supposed to investigate whether they’re safe before approving them.

        The MRA is quite upfront about possible conflict of interests, as you can see from :
        https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1076724/0522_MHRA_Board_Declarations_of_Interest_May_22__2_.pdf

        Well, at least we know.

        Reply
      2. Julian Flood
        August 4, 2022

        My goodness! Absolutely correct!

        JF

        Reply
      3. Bloke
        August 4, 2022

        The article demonstrates that Regulators are needed to control errant Govt Ministers and that controls are needed to deal with errant Regulators. It’s looking like inflating into a vicious circle of blame.

        Govt should be responsible for governing properly.

        Reply
      4. Lifelogic
        August 4, 2022

        Grenfell was caused by many things almost all done by the incompetent state sector. The green loons cladding the building at a cost of £ millions to save a tiny bit for energy for the tenants (an absurd waste of money and virtue signally), the use of poor quality in (fire terms) cladding due to poor/unclear regulation and enforcement, the failure to fully put out the initial fire. Finally the abject stupidity of the senior fire officers in telling people to stay put or even sending people back to their flats for hours long after it was clear to anyone with a brain at a single glance the fire was out of control and the only hope was to get out.

        Reply
        1. Mickey Taking
          August 5, 2022

          and I believe it transpired that some flats were sub-let (against rental agrement) which further hampered identification of who was in there, and who might be unaccounted for.

          Reply
      5. Peter2
        August 4, 2022

        You had the Ronan Point disaster in the 1960s when the State and councils were in charge of building regulation NHL

        Reply
        1. Lifelogic
          August 5, 2022

          This was however a gas explosion blowing out some load bearing walls and leading to partial collapse of one corner.

          Reply
      6. Mike Wilson
        August 4, 2022

        The Building Regulations are not outsourced. The inspections can be. The problem, surely, was trying to make a concrete tower block more thermally efficient to meet the demands of the green lobby. Polyisocyanurate insulation is the only practical thing you can add to a precast concrete building. Saying ‘it is not financially or practically viable to add extra insulation to tower blocks’ would have been met with howls of protest. One could, of course, add such insulation but it would need proper fire alarms and, ideally, sprinklers installed. Of course, in many such high rise blocks, the fire alarms and sprinklers would be set off regularly by ‘the yoof’.

        Reply
        1. Lifelogic
          August 5, 2022

          ‘it is not financially or practically viable to add extra insulation to tower blocks’ nor remotely sensible in general – indeed the climate scientifically ignorant, alarmist priests & loons have so much to answer for.

          Reply
    2. Hope
      August 4, 2022

      Water companies had year on year 9% increases when first privatised. The justification was to provide infrastructure.

      Mass immigration brings mass house building which brings mass waste being put into rivers. The rivers are filthy because of Tory party and govt.

      JR, once again, fails to say his govt.’s introduced double, treble or quadruple taxation. Water, sewerage and river floods all used to be covered under one bill for household rates. Now we pay three or four times the amount for what used to be included in one bill, we now have local authority community charge and flood defence add on, Environment Agency and water companies for water bills!

      In 1997 when EA created why was the community charge not reduced if the EA took on the work? When water was taken from rates why was community charge not reduced? Why do we have community charge add ons for flood and social care when we pay elsewhere for the same thing? The NIC tax is exactly the same. Just a multiple ways of taxing us more. That is the high taxation Tory party.

      Tory taxation is out of control and their left wing quangos add layer after layer of bureaucracy without any improvement in service delivery. Just excuses for their year after year expensive failures.

      Reply
    3. Dave Andrews
      August 4, 2022

      Privatisation of the water companies isn’t so great where I live either. You have to get your water from Southern Water – no competition, no choice.
      Public or private utilities both have their problems. In both there is no incentive to the workforce to do a good job. If you excel in a public utility you just become an embarrassment to your fellows. If you excel in a private utility your good performance becomes the profit of the shareholders.
      Now if the utility was owned in partnership with the employees and customers, there’s scope to reward good performance. Make the utilities mutual.

      Reply
    4. ignoramus
      August 4, 2022

      I think there is some sense in ending the energy cap. It may be outliving its purpose.

      The world is naturally moving to clean fuels anyway through market forces, as coal is simply not competitive. After all, when they are shutting coal plants in Arizona, a Republican-run bastion of coal, there has clearly been a fundamental shift in the economics. This, despite Trump’s attempt to subsidise coal. A truly bizarre policy. Never thought I would see Arthur Scargill and Donald Trump on the same page.

      Reply
      1. Mickey Taking
        August 5, 2022

        reliance on coal replaced by nuclear, local oil and latterly fracking. Now how does that sit in the UK?

        Reply
    5. a-tracy
      August 4, 2022

      MarkB, I hadn’t really thought of the monopoly aspect, I wonder if a private sector company said we’ll invest and build a reservoir and a desalination plant in an area of a high building plan and water problems would the government allow the new company to compete and take over the new estates water and maybe attract clients from the previous water network in that area?

      Reply
    6. No Longer Anonymous
      August 4, 2022

      And no new reservoirs despite millions more people and tougher drought conditions.

      All Government can do is buy new train sets and play at war by proxy whilst letting the country get invaded. Crime through the roof because the law and the police favour the criminals and select groups.

      What use is Government ?

      On topic. Let’s put to bed the Tory lie that wage rises are inflationary. Wages (the few lucky enough to get pay rises) are chasing inflation.

      Reply
    7. hefner
      August 4, 2022

      OfWat and the regional water companies were all created in 1989.
      The precursors of OfGen were created in 1986 (Gas Act) and 1989 (Electricity Act).
      The Oil and Gas Authority became an independent regulatory authority in 2016.

      I wonder, who was in charge in those days 😉 ?
      But obviously as shown by Sir John’s post today, nothing to do with him and his Conservative friends.

      Reply
      1. Peter2
        August 4, 2022

        It isn’t when they were created that is important hef.
        It is how they succeeded in their role.

        Reply
        1. hefner
          August 12, 2022

          Indeed, since the 1980s when these regulatory agencies were created, how many years of the different governments have we got?
          13 years of Labour, 20 years of Conservative. How long do you think a Government has to be around to react (one way or another) to a less than optimal situation?

          Reply
      2. Mark B
        August 4, 2022

        There are certain industries, such as telecommunications, were deregulation and privatisation has been a benefit. This is because of competition. But I never understood why you would privatise a monopoly and expect the exact same outcome.

        Reply
    8. Mark
      August 4, 2022

      When the water industry was nationalised it was always the first to suffer cuts in capital investment spending. That left a backlog of decades of spending that had not been undertaken, with leaking pipes, clogged sewers, struggling treatment plants and inadequate reservoir capacity. The reason why we have not escaped those days after making a start on repairing the damage is that not long after privatisation more and more new EU regulations came in, banning new reservoir capacity in almost all circumstances, and prohibiting to construction of supply pipes between river basins, and attempting to promote a general reduction in water use. We still operate under the terms of the EU Water Directives. They need to be repealed from our laws and replaced with a regime more suited to the UK.

      Reply
      1. a-tracy
        August 4, 2022

        Mark, why didn’t the Eu want more reservoirs?

        Reply
        1. hefner
          August 5, 2022

          It is pure and simply ridiculous to say that the EU Water Directives had prevented the UK building more reservoirs. Most Mediterranean countries suffer, as the UK does, from leaking pipes and low water level in reservoirs and rivers. However some countries have had a policy of building more reservoirs:
          eea.europa.eu ‘Reservoirs and dams’ 07/11/2018 shows that Spain had 4 new reservoirs per year between 1900 and 1950, doubling their numbers to 741 by 1975, and increasing to 1172 by 2018.

          Anglian Water is planning for two reservoirs scheduled for the end 2030s.
          Portsmouth Water’s Havant Thicket Reservoir started in 2021 is supposed to become operational in 2029.
          Southern Water’s New Forest desalinisation plant has been opposed by locals (May 2021).
          Thames Water’s Beckton desalinisation plant (near London) has been mothballed because of poor efficiency related to varying salinity level (Telegraph, August 2022).

          Isn’t it convenient to be able to call on ‘EU Directives’ to hide from nimbyism, poor planning, or reluctance of private companies to invest?

          Reply
          1. Mark
            August 6, 2022

            The Water Directive was formulated in 1995 and became EU law in 2000. It included a demand for rationing by price rather than increasing water extraction, and a requirement to manage water by river basin without cross supply, but on a supra national basis for rivers that pass through several countries like the Rhine. The early history of Spanish reservoir building is irrelevant. A little research shows that the Water Directive brought it to a halt, along with inter basin water sharing projects.

            OFWAT and the Environment Agency control water investment in the UK. It is not simply up to private enterprise. They operate with an EU mindset.

        2. a-tracy
          August 6, 2022

          Thank you Mark.

          Reply
      2. hefner
        August 4, 2022

        So, Mark, you are saying that EU Water Directives have prevented the UK private water companies to realise their potential, and that possibly for thirty years.
        So nothing related to UK private water companies possibly being more interested in providing dividends to their shareholders (I confess I am one of them) and nice pay packages to their top executives than actually working on leaks, building new reservoirs, or on transfer between bassins (with water rights likely held by different companies)?
        Couldn’t the EU Water Directives have been perfect excuses for the delay in actually acting on water usage forecasts available for more than 10 years, following the IPCC Fourth Assessment in 2007.

        Reply
        1. Hope
          August 5, 2022

          Hef,

          You might be correct you might not. However, Spellman (minister) was clear when she laid blame on the lack of reservoirs on the EU because solving leaks was more important. Therefore when told by a govt minister it is reasonable to assume she was informed correctly.

          Reply
          1. Peter2
            August 5, 2022

            Well said Hope.
            It is a curious coincidence that the EU Water Directive resulted in no new reservoirs.

        2. hefner
          August 6, 2022

          So, P2, how comes that Spain was able to build more than 400 new water reservoirs (of various sizes: ‘lagos-depositos, embalses y presas’) since the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) these last 20 years? Could it be because contrary to the UK Spain has a unified ‘Plan hidrologico nacional’?

          Hope, Indeed, during Spellman’s term as Environment Minister, 3 bn litres of water per day were known to be leaked by the nine UK water companies (20% of the country’s total water).
          Companies were told to prioritise fixing leaks. Nowadays they are supposed to be about 2.4 bn litres of water per day.
          bbc.co.uk ‘Have water companies cut leaks by a third?’, 06/08/2018.

          Reply
  2. DOM
    August 4, 2022

    A Tory government will only regulate and if need be punish through sufficient legislation if it possesses the political will and courage to do so. The party that would once act if it thought right do so now acts only when it is politically safe to do so.

    It is noticeable that most regulatory bodies are focused entirely on the activities of the private sector while Labour’s entire unionised, public sector is allowed in many instances to operate outside of both the civil and criminal law and without fear of comeback, punishment or imprisonment.

    Why have the Tory government turned OFCOM into the new Commissars? It is not the function of these bodies to tell the civil population in whatever area of life what we can do or say

    Without an anti- union, anti-Labour Tory party we are exposed to harm by dark political forces.

    Reply
    1. Hope
      August 4, 2022

      Do not forget May introduced the snooper charter so quangos can spy on your computer use. Local authority one of the largest bodies for spying on your computer use! Why does the food agency need to have this power? David Davis was the only one I recall to demand any computer use spying should be by the police with a warrant. Why has this not been repealed or altered?

      Tory party have incrementally given more powers to spy on and control all our activities from energy use, using a mobile, watch TV, use a computer, where we travel, how we travel, what we say and think, govern what are children are allowed to think, destroy nuclear family, deter religious beliefs, when we can or cannot protest and what about as long as it is quiet or for their right cause, how we spend our money and whether we use cash. It is not a Conservative party in any way shape or form. Those days are long gone.

      Reply
      1. hefner
        August 5, 2022

        +1, Hope.
        David Davis has indeed been vocal for years about these intrusions on people’s privacy. Where have all the so-called ‘libertarian’ Conservative MPs been during that time?

        Reply
        1. Peter2
          August 5, 2022

          Or your favourite party heffy?

          Reply
          1. hefner
            August 6, 2022

            Which is, oh Great Mind Reader?

    2. Bloke
      August 4, 2022

      In our Hierarchy of Needs politicians are not at the top, and shouldn’t stray beyond the first two levels.

      First we need air, water, food and shelter. Boring politicians provide sleep. Primark sorts clothing. UK natives reproduce easily. Politicians import others to add to our excesses to need more.

      We need safety, health, employment and resources to go further. We don’t need politicians competing to go to the top of the pyramid for their own esteem or self-actualisation. It is they whom we need to regulate.

      Reply
    3. No Longer Anonymous
      August 4, 2022

      I suggest you pay some attention to Mick Lynch and Eddie Dempsey videos. (RMT reps)

      I shouldn’t like them but I find myself cheering their straight talking and honesty to the rafters.

      Lowly public sector workers on pay freezes are NOT responsible for inflation.

      Reply
      1. Mickey Taking
        August 5, 2022

        when did train drivers become lowly public sector workers?

        Reply
    4. Nottingham Lad Himself
      August 4, 2022

      The law binds *everyone*.

      Whether this-or-that agency can be bothered to enforce it without fear or favour is another matter entirely.

      Reply
      1. Peter2
        August 4, 2022

        Would they be more independent if they were part of Government NHL?

        Reply
  3. formula57
    August 4, 2022

    If “…errors by other Regulators are all too common”, does that point to failures of Ministerial oversight or bad Regulators? Should we now have some inspector general system (as devised by U.S. President Carter) to check on the naughty antics of these failing Regulators?

    Reply
    1. Peter Wood
      August 4, 2022

      I think you’re getting there.. Where is the ACCOUNTABILITY & OVERSIGHT?
      Here’s an idea, at the end of each year, there could be an ‘Activity/Accomplishments Report’ to Parliament. Each minister, regulatory body, ‘independent government sponsored institution’ should report on what they have done, or not, was it successful or not, and did they achieve their objectives. Just like a well run commercial organisation..
      Heaven forbid someone takes responsibility…..

      Reply
      1. Jim Whitehead
        August 4, 2022

        PW, +1

        Reply
    2. Ian Wragg
      August 4, 2022

      Where has the government been this lt 12 years when perfectly good coal fired power stations have been shut down, gas storage abandoned and failure to exploit our own vst resources.
      The Won’t pay movement now hs over 100,000 subscribers and rising daily.
      We are reaching another poll tax moment caused by massive government incompetence.
      Net zero and ll the other WEF nonesense hs brought this about and you should be made accountable.
      We could have been self sufficient in energy but lk we got ws offshoring production and rewilding the farmland.
      Enough is enough.

      Reply
  4. PeteB
    August 4, 2022

    Let’s just stick with the BofE:
    – Their post brexit proposals on insurance capital requirements (Solvency II) will lead to firms holding more capital whilst Europe weakens requirememts.
    – Their axtion on scandals like the British Steel pension transfers has been shambolic, slow and vague.
    – Their oversight of lockdown loans/grants has been laughable, contributing to billions of fraud.

    Most tellingly, they maintained a zero interest rate policy for nearly 15 years and inflated money supply. This is the root cause of our economic mess today.

    To say they are not fit for purpose is a classic understatement.

    Reply
    1. Lifelogic
      August 4, 2022

      +1

      Reply
    2. No Longer Anonymous
      August 4, 2022

      +1

      Reply
  5. Walt
    August 4, 2022

    Yes, Sir John. A dismal record, isn’t it. BT and Ofcom belong on the list, for the decades of failure to invest in country-wide high-speed broadband whilst BT used its dominance to restrict competition, its money to diversify its activities into TV and sports broadcasting; and, now that BT has at last been pushed into begrudged action, Ofcom allows BT and associate companies to impose upon us charges that increase at inflation plus 3.9% p.a.

    Reply
    1. No Longer Anonymous
      August 4, 2022

      Plus the railways. Money being syphoned to offshore accounts in the billions.

      Reply
    2. Mark
      August 4, 2022

      I suspect that with soaring inflation that is no longer a remotely acceptable price basis.

      Reply
  6. Lifelogic
    August 4, 2022

    Regulators are in the business of ever more regulation. They tend to go native and get in bed with the larger companies they are regulating and with people moving from regulator to compliance advisors. Rarely do they act in the interests of the public. The FCA (while the foolish Andrew Bailey was in charge) gave us one size for all good or bad credit risk customers the 39% overdraft rates for all. In effect banning all personal overdrafts for sensible borrowers. Banking insanity from this foolish & clearly economically illiterate man. Not fit to run a piggy bank.

    Reply
    1. Lifelogic
      August 4, 2022

      Suella Braverman declares war on ‘woke witch trials’
      Attorney General says she has scrapped ‘downright dangerous’ diversity training schemes in her department.

      This need to be extended to the whole of government, the state sector, universities, schools and much of private industry too. We cannot afford all these bonkers religions – woke lunacy, net zero and the absurd current tax levels no wonder we have virtually zero growth for the last 15+ years. Millions of people being paid to do nothing of any value and worse still inconvenience hugely all those who are productive.

      Reply
    2. Lifelogic
      August 4, 2022

      Just now on World at One BBC favourite Jeremy Hunt (who is largely responsible the appalling state of the NHS and duff pandemic planning – given his failed ~ 5 years as Health Sec.) now telling us how to fix the NHS. Yet he did nothing to sort it. He needless to say supports Sunak the man largely responsible for the current economic mess. Sunak similarly tells he is the man to fix it the economy. No thanks – the more these Sunak supporters say the more convinced I am that he should never ever be PM or Chancellor. Truss is far from perfect but far superior to Sunak both in her policies and for winning elections.

      Reply
      1. Mickey Taking
        August 5, 2022

        it takes 2 to tango – Hunt vs NHS – – -guess who won the emotional battle?

        Reply
  7. Lifelogic
    August 4, 2022

    Allister Heath sound as usual today:-

    Truss Derangement Syndrome is lulling our failed elite into a fatal miscalculation
    The frontrunner’s critics are so overwhelmed by irrational fury that they fail to grasp her appeal

    Reply
  8. David Peddy
    August 4, 2022

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

    Reply
    1. Lifelogic
      August 4, 2022

      Indeed the interests of the regulators is usually directly opposite to the customers they are there to protect.

      Just as interests of lawyers is for an expensive, slow, ambiguous, often bent, multi-level almost random, arbitrary legal system. The exact opposite of what customers of the system want and need. Needless to say we largely get what suits the lawyers.

      Similarly groups set up to represent a group (landlords for example) rarely have the interest of landlord/members to the fore. They too benefit for more and more regulations, red tape and complexity. So they can charge to guide members through it.

      Reply
      1. Sir Joe Soap
        August 4, 2022

        Yes. Surely if the logic behind a price cap is to protect people from price rises by smoothing, the regulator would be pushing for 1,2 or 3 years between significant increases so that the consumer is protected on the way up and producer is protected on the way down. Regulator this morning is defending changing the cap period to 3 months by saying future price decreases will feed through more quickly, which defeats the whole idea.

        Reply
      2. Lifelogic
        August 4, 2022

        How are people meant to know what the law actually is when not even the various court levels can agree on it.

        Reply
    2. formula57
      August 4, 2022

      dux inspectores

      (vide comment supra)

      Reply
      1. No Longer Anonymous
        August 4, 2022

        Cogito, ergo doleo 🙁

        Reply
    3. cuibono
      August 4, 2022

      Those with even more huge bank balances maybe?
      They are making us poor though.
      Taking the grass from the sheep.
      “Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in se,
      Quam quod ridiculos homines facit” ( copied accurately I hope).
      From Juvenal’s “Satires”
      “Nothing in poverty so ill is borne
      As exposing men to grinning scorn”
      Translation by John Oldham
      Meaning that in the abject humiliation of poverty even the sheep might turn!

      Reply
  9. Nigl
    August 4, 2022

    Didn’t the government appoint a ‘failed’ regulator of a city watch dog to head up the BOE, the electricity regulator is merely follow Boris’s Net Zero agenda and if it is the Offshore Regulators fault why does it seem more storage, drilling licences etc have to be signed off by the M.o.S?

    Didn’t the gas market fail because of your ludicrous price caps?

    The fault lies fairly and squarely at the door of the Government and weak sycophantic ministers. It printed egregious amounts if money well past when it was needed. It is pursuing green policies blind to the cost to us, threats of shortages and dubious technology. Rewilding at the cost of food production?

    Boris wasn’t stabbed. The above are just a few examples of why we wanted rid of him. Lord Cruddas, an entitled nob should put his rainbow coloured specs away.

    Reply
    1. No Longer Anonymous
      August 4, 2022

      Chaotic and simply unable to be ashamed of himself for anything – and a press and a party that were prepared to support his unashamedness. Not any more.

      He is not wanted back. People have awakened to what he really is.

      Reply
    2. Lifelogic
      August 4, 2022

      +1 but Boris was stabbed.

      Reply
    3. Bill B.
      August 4, 2022

      But Boris is now more popular, according to a Yougov poll, than Sunak or Truss.

      Repent at leisure?

      Reply
  10. Cliff. Wokingham.
    August 4, 2022

    Sir John
    Here in Wokingham, we are told we live in a “water scarce” area. We have been forced to accept water meters as a result.
    What I cannot understand is, if we do live in a water scarce area, why are they still building hundreds of new homes. If we are so short of water or our area is running at the maximum capacity for water then we should not be building more homes nor bringing in hundreds of people to live in them.

    Reply Indeed, a point I often make. Or why not put in the reservoir I have been seeking for sometime to ensure proper Thames Valley supplies? I did help get the desalination plant for London to relieve pressures but hear today this is closed!

    Reply
    1. cuibono
      August 4, 2022

      No…just STOP importing consumers of water.
      Just STOP!

      Reply
    2. beresford
      August 4, 2022

      So (JR) we should build reservoirs and desalination plants so we can cram more people into the country. But why do we need to cram more people into the country, particularly those who are unsympathetic to our culture and way of life?

      Reply I advocate fewer migrants!

      Reply
      1. Lifelogic
        August 4, 2022

        +1

        Reply
    3. graham1946
      August 4, 2022

      Why do we even need a desalination plant which is not good for the environment anyway? We get plenty of rain in winter with floods and billions of gallons are pumped into the sea as our reservoirs cannot cope with it all. We need some form of water grid to circulate water to where it is needed and more water storage. Over the last 20 years we have experienced an extra 10 million added to the population and virtually no extra water provision, just the usual edict for us all to use less and pay more – and electricity rationing will be along soon. This industry should never have been privatised – the water companies are doing nothing (the government could have done that) are making billions which could have gone to the Treasury. They lose 1,000 olympic size swimming pools of water through leaks due to poor maintenance EVERY DAY. Another fine mess of politicians’ zealous unthinking, short term idiocy. We need and deserve better.

      Reply
    4. James Freeman
      August 4, 2022

      Or build the River Severn River Thames transfer pipeline.

      Reply
    5. Fedupsoutherner
      August 4, 2022

      Cliff. It’s the same situation in West Sussex. A water problem but hundreds of new homes being granted. Apparently they only get permission if they can show that the new homes won’t make the situation even worse. Who are they trying to kid?

      Reply
  11. Donna
    August 4, 2022

    Ultimately the Government IS to blame in all these cases and many more. Because they set up the “Independent Regulators” so they could abrogate their responsibility and deflect blame when things went wrong.

    The first part works a treat for them …. they abrogate responsibility. But the electorate isn’t as daft as they thought and knows that, ultimately, the Government is responsible and apportions blame where it lies.

    By telling the incoming PM that the “Independent Regulators” need oversight, Sir John is admitting that the Government is already in control and should exercise it.

    ALL these failures are the fault of the Government, for making the policy and laws which the “Independent Regulators” then apply.

    Reply
    1. Berkshire Alan.
      August 4, 2022

      Donna

      Amazing that all of these regulators, installed by Government and paid at a huge cost by the taxpayer, are only responsible when things are ok, as soon as things start to go wrong or fail due to their inaction, then it is someone else’s fault.
      We have a shortage of water, power, agricultural land, our roads are up to capacity, as are our train tracks, airports, sea ports, doctors surgeries, hospitals and social care services, but the Government encourages more imports of goods, services, and people. Difficult tomato it up really.
      We all know who is at fault !

      Reply
      1. Berkshire Alan
        August 4, 2022

        Tomato = to make it up. Predictive text strikes again.

        Reply
    2. Lifelogic
      August 4, 2022

      Indeed independent regulators have no real interest in looking after consumers or the public. Only elected politicians and governments – but even they have rather little interest in it it seems.

      Reply
    3. Elizabeth Spooner
      August 4, 2022

      Agreed – the regulators should not be necessary if the Government was controlling things properly. The water companies should not have been allowed to be sold abroad – they now have little time for the British consumer. Nothing that is controlled by regulators seems to be working properly and the public are getting very fed up with the chaos and incompetence which seems to now be endemic within the utility companies. Getting things working should be a priority for the new PM

      Reply
  12. Javelin
    August 4, 2022

    You forgot to mention the BBC regulator has allowed endless stream of left wing woke bile into our private lives.

    Reply
    1. Michelle
      August 4, 2022

      That one we can control in some way by switching them off.
      I object to being harangued with it all now when I go to the shops.
      Certain shops have their own radio station playing and it is a constant woke/left wing/minority grievance group bilge.
      I walked out without what I’d gone in to buy the other day so incensed at an advert clearly aimed at my hideous whiteness.
      Enough.
      This is what it must be like in communist countries who blare out endless propaganda that people can’t escape.

      Reply
    2. Lifelogic
      August 4, 2022

      +1 pure propaganda on Climate/Woke/Lefty/Pro EU lunacy. But than all the Tory leadership candidates are still for the net zero lunacy it seems.

      Reply
  13. Geoffrey Berg
    August 4, 2022

    Regulatory bodies are a modern fashion but are inherently a waste of money. Their main impact is just to add to bureaucracy. They involve themselves with an industry but don’t have to nor know how to run a business. Their pay is much less than those in senior positions in the industries they are regulating. So they can’t attract people of much calibre and the people, especially the big companies they are supposedly regulating usually run circles around them. In any case they get too close to and too accommodating of the biggest players in the field they are supposedly regulating. So let’s save some public money and just abolish regulatory bodies.

    Reply
    1. Jim Whitehead
      August 4, 2022

      GPs and dentists, especially the smaller and single handed practice ones are increasingly at the mercy of the ever more zealous and aggressive CQC, with so many, as a consequence, looking forward to early retirement.

      Reply
  14. Narrow Shoulders
    August 4, 2022

    Who appoints the management of these regulators? For how long is each tenure? How is performance measured and what sanctions are available?

    Who defines their remit?

    If not government or the Minister then government is being neglectful of its duties. If these agencies are not performing it is down to the oversight and remits so Government is ultimately responsible.

    Reply
    1. a-tracy
      August 4, 2022

      NS, I cannot find a way to alert a Minister that the regulator isn’t performing their duties online. If the regular reports that all their queries and complaints are answered by deadlines etc. and aren’t honest about customer complaints being left unsatisfied, there needs to be a customer complaint button going direct to the Ministers department.
      If a Minister suddenly started receiving a lot of complaints (limited by word count, so people have to briefly outline their problem) about a certain part of the service, then I would hold them completely responsible; if not, this is a correction they could make moving forward.

      Reply
  15. Original Richard
    August 4, 2022

    Ofgem’s remit is now to ensure the delivery of Net Zero and hence is now actively working against the interests of the consumer.

    Reply
    1. Lifelogic
      August 4, 2022

      Exactly – and most other regulators are also acting against the interest of the public and consumers. When I wanted to by a property twenty years back I used to email the details to four big bank they all came back with loan to value and terms in a day or two (say 65% LTV at base plus 1.5% and a 0.5% fee). I chose the cheapest, it was valued and the loan made available in about four weeks.

      Now, mainly due to misguided over regulation, the banks want everything under the sun and take months to perform (if they ever do). Much higher fees and margins too.

      Reply
    2. Mark
      August 4, 2022

      I don’t think that is yet law, but clearly it shouldn’t be. OFGEM completely lost their way when Ed Miliband’s 2010 Energy Act required them to give primacy to green interests over consumers interests. That should be repealed, and they should be a consumer champion again. That would entail a change of leadership, and probably of other senior positions, as well as reorganisation.

      I note there is a poll out showing a majority believe that net zero policy should be “paused”.

      Reply
      1. Original Richard
        August 4, 2022

        Mark :

        I don’t know if it is law but when giving evidence to the HoL Industry & Regulators Committee meeting on 30/11/2021 on the subject “Ofgem and Net Zero” the CEO of Ofgem made it clear that the delivery of Net Zero was now their primary purpose, unlike BTW the equivalent organisation in Denmark who still consider their primary function is to protect consumers (evidence session 02/11/2021)

        Reply
        1. Mark
          August 5, 2022

          True: as a co-author of the Climate Change Act, Brearley sees it as his raison d’être, whereas at least some members of the committee realised that isn’t quite the position. Government thinking is now unclear, as revealed in the response to the Lords Select Committee report pp8-9 available here

          https://committees.parliament.uk/work/1320/ofgem-and-net-zero/publications/

          Reply
  16. Lifelogic
    August 4, 2022

    Allisson Pearson in the Telegraph today:- Rishi’s got it all wrong – it has to be Liz
    “There’s a brutal winter coming and we need a leader who is not afraid to make bold choices to help the public
    Which do you reckon is the bigger problem facing the country right now? Is it:

    A) People failing to turn up for a GP appointment?

    B) People being unable to get a GP appointment in the first place?”

    Halfwit Rishi clearly thinks A and wants £10 fines. How do you cancel a GP appointment anyway call and wait for an hour in the phone queue? Talk about an inability to read the voters.

    She does however say Sunak is economically literate – his is not at all. What is economically sensible about his tax to death, borrow, currency debase and piss down the drain economic policies or the long and pointless lock down. What is sensible about the highest taxes for 70+ years or his moronic eat out to help out insanity. What use is the promise of tax cuts in 7 years – just before the election after next. Even if he did win the leadership and the next election they would only come in just before the election after that. Likely to be reversed by Labour a month or two later. This promise especially coming from him is totally worthless.

    Anyway why would anyone trust this serial manifesto ratter and Boris back stabber Sunak further than they could throw the him?

    Reply
    1. cuibono
      August 4, 2022

      +==
      Oh yes. As I said the other day…what a flipping CHEEK!
      Close all surgeries for two years and then start belly aching about missed appointments!
      I imagine though that the £10 lark would be the beginnings of a NOT free at point of delivery NHS. ( For SOME!!) My family always FUMES when asked at the dentist “Do you pay?” ( Yes..look at me…I’m good old Mr Muggins who pays for everything!)
      They are itching to steal everything from us.

      Reply
    2. a-tracy
      August 4, 2022

      Liz needs someone in her local area to go to visit each doctors surgery and research the reasons for cancelled appointments properly. Don’t just jump on a bandwagon, when were the appointments made, did the patient themselves make the appointment or was it a request to come in by the surgery, if the surgery requested it did they ensure it was seen and accepted before being put in the diary? Was it posted out or electronic? A random selection of patients and any patient who has missed several appointments should be contacted and asked why? Perhaps they’re not even in the Country any longer.

      Reply
    3. Berkshire Alan
      August 4, 2022

      Lifelogic
      A couple of years ago I thought our own surgery was the only inefficient one, with having to hold on for an hour to get an answer to a simple telephone call, but from comments on here, and from listening to patients from other surgeries local to us, it would appear this sort of chaos (because that is what it is) is far more common and widespread than I thought.
      What the hell is going on John?
      If I had a business that had people waiting on the phone for an hour, I would simply employ more staff, or install a more efficient system.
      Perhaps we need to limit the number of patients each practice surgery can register if they cannot cope with the numbers, that or change the way they are paid to the actual number seen (in person), not simply registered, because clearly the system is not working at the moment.
      I also read a press report over the weekend that only 20% of GP’s are working full time now, no idea if true, but it certainly feels like it !
      Is it really down to the cap on pension pots, before punitive taxation occurs ?

      Reply
      1. anon
        August 5, 2022

        Some say the average hours worked per dr has fallen. The sex mix ratio has altered the equilibrium. Poor planning. Poor execution. Not enough supply even with more than enough candidates.

        Another Deliberate restriction of domestic supply. To encourage dependence and or create it.

        Reply
    4. No Longer Anonymous
      August 4, 2022

      True enough. The amount of time I’ve had to wait in waiting rooms for appointments… where’s my money ???

      Reply
    5. X-Tory
      August 4, 2022

      Given his disastrous spell as Chancellor I would not trust Sunak to be a dog catcher, let alone PM, but on the issue of missed appointments we need to look at the facts. In 2019, NHS England stated that 15.4 million general practice appointments (1 in 20) were missed each year, and of these 7.2 million were with GPs (the others being with the practice nurses, therapists, etc), and said that this “adds up to more than 1.2 million GP hours wasted each year – the equivalent of over 600 GPs working full time for a year.” The statement went on to say that given that the average GP appointment cost was £30, the total cost of these missed GP appointments was £216 million, which could pay for “the annual salary of 2,325 full time GPs” (which interestingly tells us that GPs were, back in 2019, paid around £93,000 pa) or 224,640 cataract operations, or 58,320 hip-replacement operations. Given that this estimate only covered the missed GP appointments and not the other 8.2 million missed appointments, the total cost of missed appointments would obviously be that much greater.

      Or would it? The NHS don’t seem to understand sunk costs and opportunity costs. The cost of running GP surgeries are mainly fixed costs – the wages of the GP and other staff, the running of the building etc. Even if no patients turn up, these costs have been incurred and the money isn’t available for an alternative use. Salary costs and overheads don’t change because some appointments are cancelled. In any case, many (most?) clinics are booked with the expectation that some appointments will be cancelled, and the gaps allow extra time for other patients or for urgent cases were the patient shows up on the day without an appointment.

      The main reason missed appointments are a nuisance is that these irresponsible patients are denying a slot to someone else who would have wanted to attend at that time. And the solution is not to try to fine people – the administrative costs would outweigh the income, and those on benefits would wail loudly that they could not afford this – but simply to introduce a rule that says if you miss two appointments in a three-month period then you are no longer offered ANY appointment and must just turn up and wait for a gap when you can be seen. And if you don’t like that go find another surgery.

      Reply
  17. cuibono
    August 4, 2022

    However, if things ran smoothly, comme il faut, as it were…. how would those who have wrested power keep up the application of Project Fear?
    We must, it seems, be kept in a state of constant crisis!

    Reply
  18. Wanderer
    August 4, 2022

    Even when government itself is the regulator, the results are questionable. For example, DCMS Acts as the library regulator in England with duties to:

    “superintend and promote the improvement of the public library service provided by councils in England
    secure the proper discharge by councils of their functions as library authorities”.

    I see that Drag Queen story hour is coming to libraries in Wokingham this month…

    Reply
    1. cuibono
      August 4, 2022

      I dare say the LibDem tories think the storytellers are nice pantomime dames.
      In pretty dresses.

      Reply
    2. Michelle
      August 4, 2022

      The latter seems to be the most important thing to government local and national, these days.
      At the moment it is not compulsory to attend….at the moment.

      Reply
    3. Fedupsoutherner
      August 4, 2022

      As a parent I wouldn’t let my child attend one of these sessions in a library or school. The system is sick.

      Reply
  19. Sir Joe Soap
    August 4, 2022

    Completely useless defence of changing the energy price cap by the head regulator on Radio 4. Surely the whole point of a cap at 6 month intervals was to safeguard costs for 6 months. So why suddenly change it to 3 months just when it comes into force? Rather like a car insurance policy which becomes invalid at the moment of impact.
    What’s to stop a change to a daily price cap change?

    Totally pointless idea in the first place.

    Reply Indeed, a policy which does not stop the eventual hit and can delay the fall in inflation.

    Reply
    1. hefner
      August 4, 2022

      Reply to reply: the usual ridiculous comment about the fall in inflation: if a basket was costing £100 in 2021, £110 in 2022, and even stays at £110 in 2023 (which all economic forecasts, except Sir John’s ones obviously, say it will not), if salaries/pensions are not increased by 10% by the end of this year, people will be poorer.
      People should really really look at the amount of ‘topical and incisive’ but mathematically poor commentaries provided by Sir John on this blog.

      Reply I pointed out inflation falls when prices stop rising at the same pace. I did not comment on the real income effect. Why bother to read the site as you think it so bad?

      Reply
      1. hefner
        August 5, 2022

        Because I love seeing how you try to manipulate people …

        Reply
        1. Peter2
          August 5, 2022

          You get more like the site’s grumpy old troll every day heffy

          Reply
          1. hefner
            August 5, 2022

            Am I? Isn’t it good that a few people here put some contradictory points to what Sir John provides here as an all-seeing all-knowing 21c. Pico della Mirandola, specially when he seems to favour solutions more adapted to the 1980s than to the 2020s.

          2. Peter2
            August 5, 2022

            You get so inflamed heffy.
            Your point on inflation is ridiculous.
            Do do want deflation?

          3. hefner
            August 7, 2022

            P2, please explain why my point on inflation is ridiculous. I love being contradicted provided it is with good arguments but you seem very timid providing any of those.

    2. Mark
      August 4, 2022

      OFGEM (and BEIS) are completely out of their depth in understanding hedging. Hedging for consumers is only possible if there are suppliers (I.e. producers) or speculators willing to provide the hedge. Many suppliers are at risk of not being able to supply contracted volumes and having to buy in replacement supply at extortionate prices. You do not sell lots of nuclear output 6 months or more ahead when there is a risk the station may have to shut for repair. Wind farms all too often find that the wind doesn’t blow, and that prices reach eye-watering levels because we don’t have enough alternative capacity: selling no more than a day or two ahead once the weather is known is far less risky. Gas generation volumes are highly uncertain because they depend on wind and interconnector trade balances, so again it can be high risk to hedge a margin and then find that the physical operation doesn’t take place, which can give rise to huge losses on unwinding the contracts. The cap has been imposing massive losses on energy retailers because they have been unable to hedge in the required volumes. Many went bankrupt as a result.

      The reality is that the best hedge is a well supplied, competitive system that doesn’t suffer capacity constraints and supply shortages, and has flexibility to use different energy sources, like coal in place of expensive gas, and promotes supply of primary energy input. The failure to provide that has been the big failing of BEIS and OFGEM and the CCC.

      The crisis will only abate once global energy supply is increased to alleviate the shortages caused by climate policies that prevent investment, and once we alleviate our own capacity constraints for generation.

      Reply
    3. Lifelogic
      August 4, 2022

      +1

      Reply
  20. ukretired123
    August 4, 2022

    Such an important topic and like all SJR’s daily topics where do you start and we could write for hours on each one.
    Who audits the auditors?
    Independent defined as “blank” by “blank”.
    Perceived independence versus reality.
    Labour v conservative, EU or Brexit leaning etc etc.
    Who pays the remuneration, financial incentives and personal and career objectives.
    Hidden agendas.
    Patriot v unpatriotic.
    Royalty v republic.
    A long checklist is required today but I will keep it short.

    Reply
    1. SM
      August 4, 2022

      “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes” – as apt today as when it was written 2000 years ago.

      Reply
    2. a-tracy
      August 4, 2022

      The Minister in charge of the department audits the auditors and his team of spads and staff.
      What is missing is a customer (us) complaint button, put in the customer complaint number that you have sent to the service, what the problem is within 100 words, how long has it been going on. The Minister would then quickly build up where an ombudsman is letting them down.

      Reply
  21. Tim Chick
    August 4, 2022

    To me there had been a collective failure by both the regulators and politicians of all shades.

    Take electricity, with one honourable exception, our host who warned about home supply capacity, the pursuit of globalisation has included electricity suppliers, so we failed to build enough capacity and now have the situation of sky-rocketing energy prices. Further, there is all this encouragement to have electric transport without the corresponding plan to increase supply as well as assisting insulation and home-power generation.

    One suggestion – how about being able to install solar power panels and systems in your home and set the cost (with suitable safeguards against fraud) against your tax bill over say three years? Why is there this idea that power generation has to be ‘big’, why not small – turn every home into a mini-power generator? Why this obsession with heat pumps that just won’t heat homes to a similar standard as a gas boiler .

    When surveying the situation we are in generally, it seems to me that there is a fundamental question about in whose interests are these regulators operating?

    Also, it seems to me that Conservative politicians have ‘failed to fix the roof when the sun was shining’ and they have been in power for 12 years and I speak as a small ‘c’ conservative voter, but one who does not see that we have a conservative party at present but a band of woke-leaning, fad and latest fashion-chasing cheerleaders imposing these on the ordinary population without thinking anything through and who resist anyone showing any common sense except, again with the honourable exception of our host here. Sir John you speak and write a lot of common sense.

    Reply
  22. miami.mode
    August 4, 2022

    All regulators seem woefully inadequate in understanding the financial aspects of the industries they regulate.

    FCA only useful on individuals complaints about financial companies, Ofwat incapable of preventing water companies taking huge amounts of cash out of their businesses and loading them up with debt and Ofgem disregarding the financial viability of start-ups with their consequent bankruptcies.

    Reply
  23. The PrangWizard
    August 4, 2022

    Scrutiny? We need more than this – their existences need challenge and we need a leader who instead of enjoying debate is prepared to take action to remove most of them. We get nowhere in this country because most leaders and representatives are afraid of sticking their necks out, it doesn’t matter how wrong something is. They daren’t upset their friends.

    The country is being bled dry by over-regulation; waste, delay and deceit are everywhere. No wonder we are bankrupt, ridiculed and in collapse.

    Reply
  24. Michelle
    August 4, 2022

    I am very much reminded of all those things I’ve read over the past decades, (and now with the internet, being able to read news print from far off places) relating to third world countries.
    Corruption, bungling, unsuitable people in high and influential positions, some often just being removed to elsewhere hoping no one will notice.
    Poor basic services.

    Managed decline to third world status in terms of services and quality in all areas including governance.

    Reply
  25. Richard1
    August 4, 2022

    Will any of these people be held to account and dismissed for their uselessness? I assume not. Either we need regulators or we need civil servants to do these jobs, under the direction of ministers. We don’t need both. Surely lots of scope for cost savings at the same time as performance improvements.

    Why has Liz Truss backtracked on what seemed a sensible policy to achieve some public sector cost savings? We taxpayers need a better deal, we don’t get good value for money from public services at the moment. This is not a good sign.

    Reply
  26. Christine
    August 4, 2022

    Let’s face it. Our infrastructure hasn’t kept pace with the constant rise in the UK population and the vast number of new homes being built. This is all down to Government policy and is against the wishes of the majority of the population. When will it end?

    Reply
  27. glen cullen
    August 4, 2022

    Our supreme regulator and overlord, the UN have declared today oil & gas profits are immoral and government should tax them more….Whats this got to do with the UN ! Do they now make government policy and law ?

    Reply
    1. Mark
      August 5, 2022

      I am interested in their plans to tax Saudi, Iran, Iraq, Russia and Venezuela, as well as the US and Canada.

      Reply
  28. Julian Flood
    August 4, 2022

    The word ‘priority’ is often misused. In any situation there can be only one priority. Reading the Ofgem website it’s obvious that their one priority is Net Zero which explains a lot.

    Here’s an idea. Make Ofgem’s priority task keeping the lights on, and Ofwat’s priority keeping the taps running.

    JF
    (Net Zero: we can get there but not by the road we’re taking. see: ‘The sensible speech on climate the PM will never make.’ TCW Defending Freedom blog)

    Reply
  29. Julian Flood
    August 4, 2022

    NHL My goodness! Absolutely correct!

    JF

    Reply
  30. a-tracy
    August 4, 2022

    When the Water was sold off, weren’t there any official reservoir capacity targets per capita in each area? If not, why not? Why do we sell off public essential requirements without any specific regulation to protect the public? All these extra homes paying water rates has everything they provide risen by the same %?

    Our council sold off a shopping centre without any building maintenance or appearance agreements, shop occupation level targets, they charged rent too high for the footfall, businesses eventually walked out over ten years ago, and the place fell into rack and ruin the Irish owners didn’t care a jot, and the Council had to buy it back.

    Reply
  31. glen cullen
    August 4, 2022

    Who is regulating and allowing local councils to declare ‘Clean Air Zones’ charging motorists, spending taxpayers money and rising council tax in the local pursuit of global net-zero at the expense of the local resident ….why is government allowing this to happen across the UK when your own reports say our air is clean ?
    ‘’ Air quality in the UK has improved significantly over recent decades’’ government report – https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/6.3091_DEFRA_AirQualityGuide_9web_0.pdf

    Reply
  32. rose
    August 4, 2022

    The man in the street has been taught by the media to blame it all on shareholders.

    Reply
  33. a-tracy
    August 4, 2022

    Where is the regulator of the subsidised bus sector, we haven’t had a service for nearly three weeks; it is almost as though it is hand in glove in order to get more subsidies from the Council after summer and thus a council tax rise to the majority who don’t use the service.

    They have virtually promised the strikers back pay in the negotiations, so no skin off their noses to strike for this month; people that were regular users have had to buy scooters and bikes. Will they go back, or will the near-empty buses run around every day with even fewer customers than usual?

    The Council has not even tried to put on a shared taxi service to four key areas of each Borough. Why because maybe they are still paying across subsidies to the bus company for a service that hasn’t been provided. I hope the Council have stopped the payments, otherwise what skin is it off the bus company to just end the none profitable day services (save the cost of the fuel and maintenance) when the profitable school services are out of action?

    A truly private company with no subsidy would have to resolve this for clients or lose their future business.

    Reply
  34. Rhoddas
    August 4, 2022

    In private industry this would be standard contract management of the “managed service provider (regulator)” by the owner (HMG). The contract would state the strategy, policies, roles & responsibilities of BOTH the owner and their service provider.
    There would be KPIs, Key Performance Indicators, service metrics & reporting.
    Their would be escalation procedures and ‘step-in’ clauses, where the Regulator was failing to provide the service as measured in the contract. Step-in could be directed by HMG to be another 3rd party or HMG itself.
    In nay case Performance should be reviewed regularly between the parties.

    Responsibility vs accountability… The Regulator is responsible for delivery on the strategy and direction HMG decides/elected on. The Goverment remains accountable to the electorate on the delivery and outcomes, so they need to make their Regulators’ “Charters/mandates/strategy/directions” ABUNDANTLY CLEAR. And they need to manage these regulators performance.

    A new PM needs to sort out these Regulators’ contracts with proper scrutiny / contract management by HMG, with corrective action if not delivering. Absolutely, welcome to my world as was (retired).

    Reply
  35. Rhoddas
    August 4, 2022

    Addendum:
    And clearly HMG’s Energy Strategy net-zero has exacerbated the gas/power shortages, as others have commented on this great site. Set the right strategy please as “Energy Independence” with proper “integrated energy planning”, then we might have a chance….

    Reply
  36. Mark Thomas
    August 4, 2022

    Sir John,
    In your last paragraph you mention a welcome change of approach towards domestic gas production. This is only because of the Russians. It is only during a time of war that people’s eyes are opened to what really matters. Once the lights start going out across Europe later this year, we in the UK should at least have our own independent supply of gas, oil, coal, and some nuclear. Unlike Germany where it’s going to be cold showers this winter.

    Reply
  37. John Miller
    August 4, 2022

    I apologise, Sir John, for being completely off topic, but I’ve been reading about Sunak’s idea of charging £10 for a missed NHS appointment. Completely impractical and uncollectable, but it did make me think of the 10p charge for carrier bags. Overnight, the use of carrier bags reduced. In the same vein, locally, parking spaces at a small parade of shops were always full, but the council introduced a “10p for 10 minutes” charge and the cars disappeared. If the NHS introduced a £5 for entry to A&E (refundable if treatment was required) would queues disappear?
    I’m well aware that the usual suspects would complain about the thin end of the wedge, but we have to do something.

    Reply
  38. X-Tory
    August 4, 2022

    I’ve never understood the concept of “independent regulators” or other “independent bodies”. If politicians enter politics to change the country for the better (as they claim) then why on earth would they relinquish the ability to do so? Surely a politician would want MORE power and MORE control, not less? The more power and authority you have the more control you have to implement changes and make things work the way you want them to.

    When you give power to bodies that are independent you LOSE control, and then when something goes wrong, or fails to work as you would want it to, all you can do is whine plaintively like a pathetic child. Why would politicians want to be in such a position? If I was a minister I would insist on bringing all the regulators in-house, and having complete power and control over all decisions. The fact that politicians are happy to continue with the system of independent bodies just shows how feeble and contemptible they are and the fact that they don’t want responsibility, just the prestige and perks of high office. No wonder nobody respects them anymore.

    Reply
  39. paul
    August 4, 2022

    A free market would of made a much better job of economy and inflation than listening to the bank of england and committee.

    Reply
  40. Original Richard
    August 4, 2022

    Ofgem has today issued a press release blaming “Russia’s actions” for the much higher prices of gas and electricity.

    However, gas and hence electricity prices were rising rapidly before “Russia’s actions” and were due to the Government’s Net Zero Strategy causing intentional shortages of fossil fuels by curbing new gas licences for North Sea extraction and banning fracking.

    “Russia’s actions” made the situation worse, particularly for Germany and Europe, who despite very clear warnings from a previous POTUS, allowed a Russiaphile German Chancellor to make them dangerously dependent upon Russian energy.

    In fact if Europe had not made itself so dependent upon Russia for its energy Russia may never have had the strength to invade Ukraine.

    The UK and Europe need to ditch the false communist driven climate change/net zero agenda and return to cheap and reliable energy in the short term through fracking, expanding North Sea gas and oil production and in the case of Europe, who have already declared gas as “green”, coal, and invest in nuclear in the long-term.

    Reply
    1. Mark
      August 5, 2022

      Before we can invest sensibly in nuclear we need to reform the ONR. Presumably they were responsible for advising Kwarteng to proceed with another technologically disastrous EPR at Sizewell in a decision that will put back the credibility of nuclear options by a decade or two. Their function see,s to be to try to close the nuclear industry, rather than to nurture it as a key plank of our energy future.

      Reply
      1. Original Richard
        August 5, 2022

        Mark :

        I agree completely.

        I read that the EDF have just announced a further technical delay for their Flamanville 3 EPR, which is already running a decade late and at four times the original cost estimated in 2004.

        I don’t know why the Government have not ordered any SMRs or just built another Sizewell B.

        Reply
  41. Denis Cooper
    August 4, 2022

    Off topic, an extraordinary article in the Irish Times yesterday:
    https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/2022/08/03/liz-truss-will-play-to-the-tory-hard-right-but-she-is-no-brexit-idealogue/
    “Liz Truss is set to be next UK PM – which means a trade war with EU is almost inevitable”
    The Irish government should not be hoping for that outcome:
    http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2022/07/19/then-there-were-four/#comment-1330135
    “And while that projected an 8.16% GDP loss for Ireland if the UK left on WTO terms it was only 2.76% for the UK, which may be worth remembering if EU supporters start threatening us with a trade war.”

    Reply
  42. Mike Wilson
    August 4, 2022

    Well, I guess the Bank of England is a regulator – of sorts. It has suckered young people into massive mortgages at tiny interest rates and is now making sure loads of them get repossessed by jacking rates up. One gains the impression that ‘the establishment’ hates young people.

    Reply
  43. ChrisS
    August 4, 2022

    The headlines as I write this are that the UK is going to be in recession for more than a year.
    On just the same day that the Bank of England puts up interest rates yet again and by a full half per cent !
    The cause of the recession is predicted to be high energy costs. As the energy companies are sucking so much money out of the economy why in Earth is the Bank adding to the problem by taking even more money out of people’s pockets via higher interest charges ?

    The only people who profit from this are the banks and energy companies.

    Can our host possibly explain the reason behind the interest rate rises, they make no sense whatsoever to me.

    Reply
  44. Pauline Baxter
    August 4, 2022

    I started off with a question, Sir John. I wondered whether these ‘independent regulators’ were the QUANGOS.
    Having read the comments I’ve come to the conclusion they probably are some of the QUANGOS.
    I’ve also decided – never mind reviewing them – ABOLISH them!
    Particularly, abolish the one that is hell bent on FORCING us to become Net Zero.

    Reply
    1. Jim Whitehead
      August 4, 2022

      PB, +1 , and make it a conflagration, ‘They’d none of ’em be missed’

      Reply
  45. Lindsay McDougall
    August 4, 2022

    The conclusion is obvious: if the regulators are not doing good, get rid of the regulators. We need a framework of law saying “Thou shalt not ……..” and occasionally “Thou shalt …………….” and enforcement of those laws. Such an approach would work well with water contamination, for example.

    A potential PM who is determined to cut taxes will need to reduce public expenditure by the order of £100 billion pa. Liz Truss has so far identified reductions of £11 billion, so she has some way to go.

    The danger of failing to address the issue of government borrowing for three years is that by then State debt will have risen to approximately 115% of annual GDP and the interest on that debt will be substantial. That is bankers’ ramp territory – just ask the Greeks and Italians.

    Reply
  46. Fedupsoutherner
    August 4, 2022

    Isn’t it amazing how the LGBT community have managed to get a high profile in the Commonwealth Games? Oh for the days when it was just sport.

    Reply
  47. Margaretbj.
    August 4, 2022

    I took a couple of masters management modules at university and the thing which I always remember is the practical ‘dont take on more than you can manage well,’ This is the problem with the UK .The government has taken on far too many people than it can manage.,? due to the greed of cheap labour and EU paid staff.

    Reply
  48. glen cullen
    August 4, 2022

    BBC reporting on ‘red-button’ highest level of coral recovery on great barrier reef in 36 years but still warns the coral in the southern part ‘could’ decrease due to climate change
    Could someone please inform our net-zero regulators and the climate change committee

    Update – The biggest success story of global warming/climate change and its no longer on the BBC red-button

    Reply
    1. am
      August 6, 2022

      No surpise there.
      Meantime a rare leopard has been found not to be extinct after all in Taiwan. Years after the supposed last one was spotted.

      Reply
  49. mancunius
    August 5, 2022

    My experiences with Ofwat and Ofgem have shown me that the regulators are unwilling to address any issue and incapable of observing the obvious.
    Some years ago, after I’d moved to a new property, the gas supplier’s meter readers misread the gas meter in the hallway, mistaking its type. After three years a meter reader chanced to identify the meter as being an old 4-figure model that they had always read as a 5-figure model. The energy company then sent me a bill for more than £1,000 for what they called ‘arrears’. I called Ofgem and said I felt strongly that I had been negligently misled by the energy supplier into using far more energy than I would have done had I known the true amount and cost, and that as a layman I could not be expected to identify a meter type where they had failed to do so.
    The Ofgem representative brusquely said my complaint would not be upheld, as ‘if an energy supplier was held responsible for not identifying and accurately reading a meter, none of the suppliers would make a profit’.
    This assessment speaks for itself.
    My water company used to send its annual bill for the next annual period demanding 12 monthly standing order payments that were always wrongly increased by *tacitly* not taking into account the final two payments of the current annual period – as if I should suddenly cancel the scheduled monthly payments I had always previously made. The bill was worded and structured so as to conceal this material fact. Overpayments were never repaid by the company, but in the foillowing annual bill (again, tacitly) set off against the next year’s equally overcharged amount, to create undue credit for them and make their practice unidentifiable. Realizing that many others would be taken in by this, I wrote to Ofwat, and received a reply that was nonsense and – to boot – written incomprehensibly by a non-native speaker of English. I complained further, and the Ofwat representative told me that the water company had the right to charge and bill as they wanted to.
    There is increasingly an IQ and educational failure evident throughout state and private corporate enterprise in the UK. Let us have cheaper recourse to the law – as in e.g. Germany, where it is easy to challenge corporate errors, and where legal judgements are affordable, fair, and not decided inherently on the side of idiocy.

    Reply
  50. am
    August 6, 2022

    The blog should be changed so that the comments input box is at the top not the bottom of the pages. It will save having to scroll down through many comments to find the comments box. In economic terms it will improve productivity.
    But our hosts analysis of the regulators is correct and his recommendations need to be implemented by the new leader. I hope there is sufficient strategic thinking in the new team to see its need and will to enforce it.
    Regulators take on a life of their own, can be captured by groups and become unaccountable and unremovable. It is part of the blob. Large, gooey piece of plastic ever expanding and taking over the desk. The American president has hire and fire powers. We need this system in the UK and the government with its new leader should implement it. Currently the blob can protect itself. That needs to be stopped.
    But more specifically regulators appear like the Boe. They do not plan ahead or are too slow. The result is they are only heard of when a crisis occurs whereas if they had been planning ahead the crisis would not have occured or at least be lesser in its severity.
    How long will we hear about leaking water pipes, not fixed, losing millions of litres a day. I am sure there is someone able to calculate the volume lost under the measure, Britain loses water the size of Lake Coniston every year, etc.

    Reply

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