OFT to cut back on investigationsIt plans to focus on high profile cases

12 October 2006

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is planning to cut the number of cases it investigates.

The move follows criticism that the consumer watchdog was too slow and ineffective in its inquiries.

Last November a National Audit Office report found that almost one in six of the OFT’s on-going investigations had taken longer than three years. The report said the investigations needed to be quicker, more transparent, and more consistent in quality.

Greatest impact

The move is expected to lead to the organisation focusing more closely on a smaller number of cases where it can have the greatest impact.

OFT Chief Executive John Fingleton said: 'The OFT recently announced changes to the way we operate which will allow us to focus on high impact projects and to look more systematically at whole markets and issues.

'We aim to use all the tools available to us to improve markets where they are not operating effectively. Our objective is to make the OFT more efficient and to concentrate our effort on clear strategic goals. Today's announcement is another step in this process.'

More efficient

Louise Hanson, Head of Campaigns at Which?, said: 'Which? welcomes the move to speed up investigations and focus on cases that will have a higher impact. We've been concerned in the past about the time the OFT has taken over some investigations, and we'll be keeping an eye on the effect of these changes on consumers' lives.'