Econolex Beesley Lecture Inverses

 

Every Wednesday Evening (7pm GMT) from 5 October to 23 November 2022

Institute of Directors, London

What are the Beesley Lectures?

Now in their thirty-first year, The Beesley Lectures were founded by Professor Michael Beesley, one of the most influential regulatory economists of his time, and attracts the foremost thinkers in government, industry and academia.

The lectures address the latest developments in energy, water, digital markets and competition policy. This year’s series comes at a time of global volatility, challenges of recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and dramatic rises to costs of living which raises important questions for policy makers and regulators.

The series attracted over 1000 attendees in 2021, including economists working for regulators, competition authorities, companies in regulated sectors or in consulting, as well as policy makers, academics and lawyers.

This year, we are delighted to be back in person with a stellar line-up of speakers at the IoD. A leading economist or industry figure will speak at 7pm GMT for one hour and a specialist will provide a 20-minute response before handing over to the audience for questions followed by a drinks reception.

LECTURE 1 | 5 October 2022

Beyond PR24: is the price review framework fit for purpose?

The water sector faces significant challenges in the coming years and decades. Climate change threatens resilience, with drier summers, more frequent rainfall and more variable river flows; customers’ expectations for quality of service and the treatment of the environment are rising; and concerns about affordability have been amplified as increasing numbers of households are struggling to pay their bills. To rise to this challenge, companies need to step up and take responsibility, rethink their asset base strategy, and think about how to deliver over much longer timescales. This raises the question of whether the existing regulatory framework of five-year price reviews is fit to facilitate this outcome. This lecture examines how regulators can adapt to meet these challenges, from encouraging long-term planning through longer-term regulatory frameworks, to overcoming sector silos to ensure that they can deliver effectively on the outcomes that customers and society care about.

Lecturer
Cathryn Ross, Strategy & Regulatory Affairs Director, Thames Water

Respondent 
David Black, Chief Executive Officer, Ofwat

LECTURE 2 | 12 October 2022

Lessons for regulation & policy makers from the current energy market crisis

Dramatically rising costs for wholesale energy over the last year have placed the supply maket in turmoil. While the spike in wholesale gas prices and the risky business models of new entrants may have contributed to the crisis, some smaller suppliers have blamed the energy price cap itself for the turmoil. The price cap for default energy tariffs was first introduced by Ofgem in 2019 with the aim of capping the most expensive tariffs and protecting customers who did not switch to better deals available in the market. This is an aim which the price cap has arguably achieved. However now the price cap is placing a limit on not just the highest tariffs but also the cheapest tariffs in the market. This raises the question of whether the price cap is fulfilling the purpose it was originally intended for and to what extent it is the right approach for regulating the supply market. This lecture examines the effectiveness of the energy price cap, exploring the alternative strategies that are available, and the lessons that can be learned for policy makers from the current energy market crisis.

Lecturer
Keith Anderson, Chief Executive Officer, ScottishPower

Respondent 
Stephen Littlechild, Economist

LECTURE 3 |19 October 2022

Leading the charge towards a competitive EV infrastructure market

The UK has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to Net Zero by 2050 and with transport as the single largest source of emissions in the UK, transitioning from petrol and diesel cars to electric vehicles (EVs) is key to meeting this target. For this to happen however, it is imperative that a comprehensive and competitive EV charging network is in place to encourage EV uptake. Questions have been raised however as to whether we are currently on track to achieve this. The CMA found in its 2021 market study that while some parts of the sector are developing well, other parts, especially along motorways, remote locations and on-street charging, are lagging behind. This lecture explores what interventions may be necessary to encourage more investment and unlock competition in the sector to ensure that everyone can access convenient and affordable charging no matter where they live.

Lecturer
David Stewart, Executive Director, Markets & Mergers, CMA

Respondent
Graeme Cooper, Head of Future Markets, National Grid

LECTURE 4 | 26 October 2021

British energy security strategy: a framework for secure, clean and affordable energy for the long-term?

The Government has published its ‘British energy security strategy’ which lays out plans for increased investment in home-grown, clean energy infrastructure to help move the UK away from imported oil and gas, bolster renewable energy sources, and help tackle rising energy costs. While these aims are laudable, there are concerns that the strategy may overlook ways of achieving these aims which may be cheaper and quicker to implement. Is the strategy’s focus on growing nuclear infrastructure the best approach to achieving clean, home-grown energy when onshore wind and solar infrastructure are often cheaper and faster to build? Does the strategy’s long-term focus on energy costs, overlook measures such as improving building insulation, which could have more immediate impacts on costs? What should be the role of domestically sourced gas in the short and medium term? And what does the focus on longer-term commitments over more immediate measures, mean for the likelihood of delivering on the strategy’s aims? This lecture goes beyond the ambitions of the pledge to explore what concrete steps will need to be taken if the Government is to deliver on its promise.

Lecturer
Alistair Phillips-Davies, Chief Executive Officer, SSE

Respondent
Chi Kong Chyong, Research Associate, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge

LECTURE 5 | 2 November 2022

All change for the railways: is GBR the solution to a fragmented sector?

The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail has set out the most ambitious changes to the rail sector in a generation. The plan argues that the fragmented nature of the sector has made it unable to meet changing passenger demands and enable network-wide changes, while the short-term focus of the franchising model has discouraged the long-term investment urgently needed for decarbonisation and data driven transformation. The solution outlined in the Williams-Shapps Plan is a new public body: the Great British Railways (GBR) which will run and plan the rail network, own the infrastructure, receive fare revenue, and bring the system under one guiding mind. While some hope that this recentralisation will pave the way for more efficiency and restore the focus on serving passengers, communities and taxpayers, others fear that the GBR may risk a return to the monolithic structure before privatisation. Whether the GBR can deliver on its aims will ultimately depend on the extent to which it can create the right incentive structures to deliver the reforms that are needed. This lecture examines how the GBR aims to deliver on this promise.

Lecturer
Andrew Haines, Chief Executive, Network Rail & Chair, GBR Transition Team

Respondent
Chris Bolt, Economist & Former Chair of the ORR

LECTURE 6 | 9 November 2022
The regulation of inflation: reflections on 25 years of the MPC

We are witnessing a period of generationally high inflation which has made reflection on the role of the Monetary Policy Committee in regulating inflation essential. Since 1997, the Bank of England has had operational independence over monetary policy with the paramount statutory duty of maintaining price stability. While a number of factors are driving current inflation, from dramatic rises in oil and gas prices to supply constraints from international covid restrictions, some critics have blamed the Monetary Policy Committee’s own policy decisions for currently soaring inflation. While the governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey has rejected accusations that the MPC let demand get out of hand, noting that GDP growth has been substantially below its expected pre-covid path, others have raised concerns that loose monetary policy and the prioritization of supporting output and employment at the expense of inflation during the pandemic, may have contributed to the current crisis.

Lecturer
Sir John Vickers, Professor of Economics, University of Oxford

Respondent
Andrew Sentance, Economist

LECTURE 7 | 16 November 2021

The role of fairness in regulation: what counts as ‘fair’ in fair competition? 

The role of fairness in regulation has become a critical topic of debate, especially in digital markets, where the Digital Markets Act has been proposed with the explicit aim of ensuring fairer competition, with distinct legislative proposals also taking shape in the UK and US. Critics argue that such interventions aimed at ‘fairness’ may reduce innovation and make services worse for consumers by removing firms’ ability to combine consumer data across different services, while advocates maintain that fairer competition will ultimately drive better services for users in the long run. Ultimately, much of the contention comes down to how ‘fairness’ in regulation is defined. Under the presence of network effects, platforms can often impose conditions that reflect not only its own contribution to users’ welfare, but also those of other users. This lecture argues that when fairness is defined such that firms receive rewards equal to the value of their contribution to the welfare of their clients, it can provide a solid economic foundation for regulation which would increase competition and be beneficial for both consumers and business users.

Lecturers
Amelia Fletcher CBE, Professor of Competition Policy, Norwich Business School

Respondent
Iain McGuffog, Director of Strategy & Regulation, Bristol Water



LECTURE 8 | 23 November 2022

Returning inflation to target

TBC

Lecturer
Huw Pill, Chief Economist, Bank of England

Speakers

Cathryn Ross, BT Group | Beesleey Lecture Series

Cathryn Ross

Strategy and Regulatory Affairs Director, Thames Water

Keith Anderson Photo

Keith Anderson

Chief Executive Officer, Scottish Power

David Stewart Photo

David Stewart

Executive Director, Markets & Mergers, Competition and Markets Authority

Alistair Phillips-Davies Photo

Alistair Phillips-Davies

Chief Executive Officer, SSE

Andrew Haines Photo

Andrew Haines

Chief Executive, Network Rail & Great British Railways Transition Team Lead

Sir John Vickers Photo

Sir John Vickers

Professor of Economics, University of Oxford

Amelia Fletcher, Norwich Business School | Beesley Lecture Series

Amelia Fletcher

Professor of Competition Policy, Norwich Business School

Huw Pill Photo Square

Huw Pill

Chief Economist, Bank of England

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