Watchdogs show their pedigrees: Each privatised utility has a regulatory body but what do they do and how much do they cost?

THE APPOINTMENT of John Swift as rail regulator last week brought the new Office of the Railway Regulator one step nearer to operational status.

ORR - or Ofrail, as it is unofficially known, though for obvious reasons the abbreviation does not appeal to the Department of Transport - is the latest in a growing band of regulatory bodies created to monitor the privatised utilities and contracted-out services.

So what do they do and how much do they cost the public whose interests they are there to serve?

Below, we look at a litter of Ofdogs.

Office of Fair Trading (OFT)

The oldest of them all, OFT was set up in 1973 to safeguard the interests of consumers. It regulates consumer affairs and formulates competition policy, with investigations into companies allegedly engaged in anti- competitive conduct. OFT is headed by Sir Bryan Carsberg, who cut his regulatory teeth in an eight-year stint at the Office of Telecommunications and is a keen advocate of competition in the marketplace. He has 430 staff and a pounds 19.3m budget.

Office of Telecommunications (Oftel)

Established in 1984, Oftel has sole responsibility for monitoring public telecommunications operators and enforcing the terms of their licences. It also has the authority to modify those licences where necessary. The present director-general, Don Cruickshank, now oversees the tough new price-capping formula that was Sir Bryan's parting shot. He can call for assistance on 150 permanent staff and additional casual labour when necessary, but new statutory duties will soon add another 20 people to the payroll. Regulating BT and its brethren cost pounds 8.1m for the year ending March 1993.

Office of Gas Supply (Ofgas)

With the privatisation of British Gas in 1986 came nemesis in the shape of Ofgas and Sir James McKinnon, the prickly Scottish accountant who was its first director-general. In November he was replaced by Claire Spottiswoode, who has already shown herself a less explosive and more hands-on regulator. She heads a team of 46, which swelled, along with the pounds 3.9m budget, during the recent investigation of British Gas by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

Office of Water Services (Ofwat)

Ian Byatt, director-general of Water Services since Ofwat was set up in 1989, is responsible for the economic regulation of water and sewage services. The Birmingham-based office has an estimated 130 permanent staff - many of them employed on 10 regional Customer Service Committees - and another 30 on short-term contracts. It cost pounds 7.52m to keep the water companies in check last year, but the budget has soared to pounds 9.7m for the year ending March 1994, as additional work is required to complete a periodic review of the industry.

Office of Electricity Regulation (Offer)

Established in 1989, in the run- up to the creation of the regional electricity companies, Offer is headed by Professor Stephen Littlechild, the most academic of watchdogs at a private utility. Littlechild presides over a total of 216 staff and has a budget of pounds 10.5m for the year ending March 1994. Offer's costs - like those at Ofwat - have increased in line with its expanded workload resulting from a periodic review of the electricity industry.

Office of Standards in Education (Ofsted)

Set up in September 1992, Ofsted is not a quango, which puts it into a slightly different category from its fellow Ofdogs. Headed by Professor Stewart Sutherland, HM's Chief Inspector of Schools, it has two basic functions: to monitor the four-yearly inspection by third- party contractors of every single school in the country; and to provide training for new inspectors, complete quality checks and advise the Secretary of State for Education. Ofsted has a total staff of 500 and a budget of pounds 56m.

Office of Passenger Rail Franchising (Opraf)

The 1993 Railways Act has resulted in the creation of Opraf and the appointment of Roger Salmon as franchising director in November. His job is to attract private sector interest in the provision of passenger services under franchise agreements and to monitor the payment of subsidies. He will also be expected to protect the interests of passengers and promote the greatest economic use of the network by encouraging competition, efficiency and economy on the part of the franchise operators.

Office of the Railway Regulator (ORR)

The same Act has spawned the new Office of the Rail Regulator, which currently has 15 staff, although this should reach 35 by the time ORR becomes operational in April. It has permission to employ up to 91 people as its responsibilities increase. These include issuing licences to new railway operators and resolving disputes about access to the network by international services. ORR is also charged with protecting rail-users' interests and promoting the development of the network and competition for its use. Cynics may spot similarities with Opraf.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Marketing Executive - B2B - OTE £25,000

£17000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity to join this new...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £21000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Recruitment Genius: Business Control Manager

£36000 - £44000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Encouraging more businesses to ...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower