Trust and Brexit amongst priorities for CMA in annual plan

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The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will get to the heart of improving trust by prioritising work in markets that really matter to consumers, so they are reassured that what they are seeing is what they are getting.

The CMA will build on its track record of tackling issues that jeopardise trust, including recently securing a victory for UK holidaymakers by getting some of the biggest online hotel booking sites to change their ways.

The annual plan highlights how the CMA has already carried out sector-wide reviews to protect shoppers and make markets work in their favour. This includes recommending a package of reforms to government and regulators to address concerns raised by Citizens Advice that some companies are penalising millions of long-standing customers.

The CMA will also prioritise cases where people may be losing out because they are vulnerable to exploitation, or getting a poor deal due to their personal circumstances. In such cases, the CMA will not hesitate to take tough action on harmful business practices and to protect those who suffer most. In the coming weeks, it will publish the outcomes of its in-depth programme of work on vulnerable consumers, which it launched in 2018. The CMA is meanwhile consulting on proposals to refer the funerals sector for an in-depth market investigation because of concerns over large price increases.

The CMA is publishing its annual plan when the timing and nature of the UK’s exit from the EU remain uncertain. The plan makes clear that CMA will be ready to step up to its additional responsibilities, including a new UK state aid function, whether at the end of March or later. Whilst a ‘no deal’ exit would present challenges in the short term, the period ahead also provides opportunities for the organisation to secure better outcomes for UK consumers and to take on a bigger role on the world stage.

Due to the continued uncertainty around EU exit, the CMA is publishing its priorities at a high level. It intends to continue to refine and explain its plans as clarity emerges.

The CMA enters 2019/20 with a substantial volume of ongoing work and at the time of publication has 23 competition enforcement cases; 6 consumer enforcement cases; 12 merger investigations, and 2 market studies under way.

Read the annual plan here

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