Consumer Focus quango will be missed

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Indy Politics

Merging the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission is sensible. They carry out different functions but in essence their task is the same: ensuring fair competition. Both are sluggish; merging them should speed them up.

Abolishing Consumer Focus, the publicly-funded consumer watchdog, is misguided. Most of its £14m-a-year budget, £9m, comes from industry and it is doing useful work on energy and postal services. It has won annual refunds of £15m on ISAs and £70m from npower. Passing its policy role to a voluntary body that delivers neighbourhood advice, Citizen's Advice, smacks of dogma.

The Government could create a better watchdog and save more by abolishing the Air Transport Users Council, Passenger Focus and Consumer Council for Water and hand their work to Consumer Focus. This would focus on five big industries: energy, post, water, rail and air travel, and be funded by levies on them, saving £20m more than the plan.

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