Connected Research

Union policy research in the 21st century

Ofcom budget and annual plan, 2010-2011

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Amidst some kerfuffle over its proposals on the pay TV market, which have been three years in the making and which have concluded with something of a bloody nose for Rupert Murdoch, Ofcom has simultaneously published its annual workload programme for 2010-2011. The news release for the annual plan trumpets another year-on-year cut in the Ofcom budget – apparently, this is the sixth year in a row where the budget has been lower than previously. Demonstrating the declining cost of regulation is no doubt a good idea around election time, not least given the appetite the Tories demonstrated last year for taking an axe to Ofcom, and may also be a good defensive reaction against whatever departmental spending reviews are around the corner.

Declining budgets are, however, likely to put significant pressures on union negotiators when it comes to pay reviews and the existing proposals for efficiency savings in property, IT services and procurement will put the 860 or so staff working right across Ofcom, including in these specific areas, under some strain regardless of their contributions to developing its work programme. According to its website, Ofcom is one of ‘Britain’s top employersscoring particularly highly on pay and benefits and working conditions – things that are not only hard-fought for and which do need to be defended but which, from an organisational perspective, clearly provide an important differentiator as well as added value when it comes to issues of staff recruitment and retention.

It is notable that Ofcom’s total budget for the year (£142.5m) again specifically includes deficit repair contributions to the pension schemes of the legacy regulators that existed prior to the creation of Ofcom and we look forward to a similar view coming to prevail during the year as regards the deficit repair contributions made to their own schemes by companies regulated by Ofcom.

The annual plan centres on progress in nine priority areas as well as in other major ongoing work areas, summarised here. It is a complex and involved plan, entailing Ofcom (and as usual) seeking to make progress on a wide variety of fronts simultaneously. One of the ‘major ongoing work areas’ is Ofcom’s Mobile Sector Merger Support programme, under which it seeks to provide support ‘as necessary’ to the European Commission and to the Competition Commission. I’m hoping that this will be one of its quieter work areas over the coming twelve months – but, at the same time, that Ofcom continues, despite the decline in its budget, to attract sufficient resources to carry out its role effectively.

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Written by Calvin

31/03/2010 at 4:15 pm

One Response

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  1. […] and NI was the product of endless negotiating, secretive dinner meetings, promises to abolish Ofcom and scale back the BBC, and quaffing wine in exotic villas. Ultimately I think the clincher was […]


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