Progressive Futures

Regulation and fairness

13 December 2012

An emerging opportunity for social democracy

Shamit Saggar

Modern regulation is at a crossroads. The shortcomings exposed by the 2008 financial crisis point to the need to re-evaluate both rationales and operating models.

There is a widespread feeling that financial regulators were wholly ineffective in curbing the excesses of financial markets. Executive pay rose to inappropriate levels regardless of contribution without adequate regulatory oversight. In utilities markets, consumers have grown increasingly frustrated at rising prices and the perceived decline in service standards. In key areas of public provision, sectors like health and social care have seen repeated examples of regulatory failure, more often causing harm to the most vulnerable.

In this new Policy Network paper, Professor Shamit Saggar examines different conceptions of regulatory fairness to describe the terms of an emerging debate and the opportunities that this represents. Saggar argues that social democratic renewal is fundamentally dependent on thorough and credible understanding of the capacity of existing regulatory architectures.

Issues of fairness and equity are central to this re-evaluation. Perceptive and nuanced regulation is in demand that is not naïve to the imbalances between users and providers in markets and public services, and the risks posed to the weak and vulnerable in particular.