Philip Hammond has announced a review of utility regulation, which could see the creation of a single watchdog covering gas, water and energy.
The chancellor of the exchequer has commissioned the National Infrastructure Commission to carry out an independent study of the telecoms, energy and water regulators.
The review is part of a package of measures, which the Treasury says is designed to support businesses to boost skills, growth and prosperity in the new economy.
At a fringe meeting organised by Centrica at the Conservative party conference this morning (2 October), junior Treasury minister Robert Jenrick MP, said: “We’ve asked the NIC to work with us on how to improve regulation and what are the range of options across industries to make them more consumer focused and inject more competition.”
He said that among the “radical options” that might be considered are creating a single regulator across “all industries to ensure that all sectors work together and are more nimble and flexible.”
Jenrick, who holds the post of exchequer secretary, added that the utilities regulators should be “much more front footed” in responding to changing pressures on consumers.
He said the review is also designed to respond to Labour pressure to restore public ownership over the utilities.
The exercise will look at how to “renew the model of privatisation of utilities so that it retains and regains public confidence, so we can win that battle of ideas and how we can have smarter regulation to stay fleet of foot as new technologies come on board.
“The UK can lead the world on having good smart regulation that is flexible and fit for the time.”
A spokesperson for Ofwat said: “We are looking forward to working with the National Infrastructure Commission and other regulators on this important review.”