A challenging initial assessment for the water companies in England and Wales

On 31 January, Ofwat published its Initial Assessment of Plans as part of the current water sector price control review in England & Wales. Ofwat categorised three companies’ business plans as ‘fast track’, meaning their proposals over 2020–25 are ready to implement. Four companies’ plans were categorised as needing significant scrutiny and substantial rework, and the remaining companies’ plans were categorised as ‘slow track’, needing to undertake further work on their plans. What are the cost-efficiency and finance aspects of this initial assessment?

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Hidden talent: the economic benefits of social mobility

Social mobility: social justice or economic imperative? Even modest increases in social mobility in the UK could yield significant improvements in productivity, according to pro-bono research conducted by Oxera on behalf of the Sutton Trust. Our findings on the impact of social mobility on productivity are set out here 

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Wishful thinking? Bus franchising and the Tyne and Wear QCS

The UK Transport Act 2000 gave GB local authorities the power to move to a franchised bus network under a quality contract scheme (QCS). The North East Combined Authority (NECA) has looked to use this power, with two (separate) Oxera teams providing advice to bus operators, Stagecoach and Arriva, on the economics of the proposal throughout its development. This article reflects on the experience in light of the current bus policy debate, with next year’s Buses Bill set to include bus franchising powers as part of the government’s devolution agenda

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When less is more: reducing regulatory judgement

The need for judgement is a key feature of many regulatory regimes; if a significant amount is required, this can increase regulatory risk, and therefore also the financing costs to the companies concerned. We examine how regulatory judgement can be reduced in one aspect of RPI – X regulation—the efficiency assessment—and investigate how better decisions can be made with less information, reducing both the regulatory burden and the requirement for maintaining independent comparators in an industry.

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