The competition watchdog’s ability to get the best deal for British consumers could be endangered by job cuts, the government’s chosen candidate for chair of the body has warned.
The government intends to slash 91,000 civil service jobs over the next three years, in an endeavour to bring headcount back to 2016 levels.
Ministers’ preferred candidate for chair of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Marcus Bokkerink, told MPs that uncertainty around job cuts was “actually the most destabilising factor that I can see right now for the organisation.”
When questioned what his ask of the government would be with regards to talent and recruitment, he said it was important the government understood what cutting resources would mean for the CMA.
“If current resources are less than they are now, some very hard choices are going to have to be made,” in terms of what consumer cases the CMA chooses, he said.
The organisation had an integral role to play in tackling the cost of living crisis, as it ensured prices were not higher than they needed to be for consumers, he told the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee.
He pointed to recent cases where the CMA had cracked down on pricing cartels in the construction sector, as well as cases involving Covid PCR testing.
“Effective, dynamic competition is one of the best levers available to make sure what you pay in shops or online is not more than it needs to be,” he added. “You get better choices rather than less choices.”
After a two-year hunt for a chair, last month business secretary Kwasi Kwartenghas named the former Boston Consulting Group partner as the preferred candidate to take over the top job.
At the time, Kwarteng said that Bokkerink, who has three decades of experience advising corporate executives and boards, would be preferred to take on the chairmanship after former chair Andrew Tyrie was ousted in 2020 in a boardroom coup.