Ofcom today published its draft 2013/14 Annual Plan for consultation, outlining its strategy and work programme for the next financial year. Ofcom's proposed priorities in the 12 months are to:
- Promote effective competition and informed choice. This will include ensuring effective competition and investment in both current and superfast broadband, and promoting choice for consumers through clear information and efficient switching processes.
- Secure optimal use of spectrum. Ofcom will implement a strategy for a potential release of future spectrum for mobile broadband, to meet consumers' growing demand for data - as well as clearing and releasing further spectrum bands.
- Promote opportunities to participate. For consumers and citizens to benefit from communications services, they need to be able to access and make efficient use of them. Ofcom's work in this area will include securing the universal postal service and working in collaboration with Government and industry on the availability of superfast broadband.
- Protect consumers from harm. Ofcom will develop and enforce consumer protection policy on a range of issues. This will include reforming non-geographic numbering to ensure price transparency and considering issues such as mid-contract price increases.
- Maintain audience confidence in broadcast content. This will involve relicensing public service broadcasters to ensure continued delivery of high quality, widely available public service broadcasting.
- Contribute to and implement public policy defined by Parliament. Ofcom has a role in supporting the development of wider public policy in relation to communications matters. Current examples include Ofcom's work to implement measures aimed at reducing online copyright infringement, under duties created by the Digital Economy Act 2010, and undertaking a review of public service broadcasting.
Providing value for money
As part of the 2010 Treasury Spending Review, which determined public-sector budgets up to 2014-15, Ofcom has responded to the wider challenges facing public expenditure. This has involved ensuring Ofcom delivers effective, targeted regulation in the interests of citizens and consumers, while maintaining value for money for its stakeholders.
Ofcom's Expenditure Review Project produced measures to enable the organisation to deliver all its commitments (excluding the new remit to regulate the postal service) while targeting a 28.2% real-terms budget reduction over four years, as agreed with HM Treasury.
Ofcom is on course to meet this target, having so far achieved savings of 22.8%. Reduced staff costs are one factor: over a five-year period, Ofcom's headcount is expected to reduce by around 170 full time equivalents by 2014/15, excluding any additions as a result of regulating postal services.
In addition to the targeted savings, over the next financial year Ofcom will continue to work with other regulators to share best practice and minimise costs wherever possible.
The draft Annual Plan 2013/14 can be found here. Consultation on the plan closes on 22 February 2013.
Ofcom is holding public consultation events on its draft Annual Plan in the Nations. In March 2013, Ofcom will publish its completed Annual Plan, along with details of its budget for the new financial year.