Regulatory Policy Institute

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Based at Oxford, the Regulatory Policy Institute considers and researches regulation and regulatory policy in policy areas where regulation is active. The people involved, their publication list, their list of seminar presentations and conferences strongly suggest that the regulation the RPI promote is conducive to competition and markets. They state, "the Institute has particular interest such as: institutional structures and arrangements, administrative processes and their characteristics, market governance, the supervision and control of regulatory processes, sources of 'regulatory failure', the contribution of regulatory policies to comparative/competitive advantage, risk assessment and control, the impact of regulation on competition, and deregulation and liberalisation" [1].

According to the Regulatory Policy Institute (RPI):

the objective of the RPI is to promote the study of the regulation of economic activity, with a view to deepening our understanding of the drivers and impacts, intended and unintended, of a range of public policies, and thereby to contribute to more effective policy development in the future.
Since the focus of the Institute's activities is on regulatory policy and processes, its work spans a range of traditional disciplines and vocations, including (but not limited to): economics, law, politics, finance, accounting and management studies[2].


The last public declaration on the Regulatory Policy Institute website was in December 2006, when it stated,

"The Chairman of the Council of Management is Mr Peter Freeman, Deputy Chairman of the UK Competition Commission, and the Director is Professor George Yarrow".

The current Members of the Council of Management, shown with indicative professional backgrounds, are:

In addition, to George Yarrow, the senior members of the Institute based at Oxford are:


The Regulatory Policy Institute are prolific organisers of conferences, seminars and forums discussing various policy areas involving regulation.


“The Politicisation of Regulatory Policy: Exceptional circumstances or a new trend?” London, November 6th 2002

According to the Regulatory Policy Institute, the aim of this conferences was to "examine the changing role of politics, and politicians, in UK regulatory policy and to discuss the implications that this may have for the formulation and application of public policy and for the activities of independent regulatory agencies"

Speakers included:


Research undertaken by the Regulatory Policy Institute has encompassed various sectors. They state how,

"The RPI undertakes research on all aspects of regulatory policy. Some of this work is self-initiated and supported from general funds, particularly in areas where broad issues arise that may not, at the time, present themselves as 'problems' to any of the participants in specific regulatory processes" [4].

Water Research

Amongst the various sectors in which they have discussed, heard presentations and researched is water regulation and policy. Past presentations have been imparted by Regulatory Policy Institute Council Of Management member, ex Ofwat Director Of Services and current Chairman of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland, Sir Ian Byatt on his own and with Alan Sutherland of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland [5] Phillip Fletcher and Phillip Dixon of Ofwat.

The Regulatory Policy Institute conducted a study funded by Water UK, scheduled for completion in early 2008, to "contribute to the ongoing public policy debate on the appropriate role(s) for competition in the water sector. The Institute team will be taking a ‘stand back’ look at the various forms that competition can feasibly take in the sector – from pre-privatisation notions such as capital market competition, franchising and yardstick competition, through later developments such as inset appointments, to future possibilities based around different types of unbundling of activities"[6]. For a clue as to their thinking and the direction of the resultant report its worth pondering a line on page 4 of the full report. They state, how their "emphasis is on the exploration of where and how new competitive processes might most usefully be fostered in water services". For the full report go to Regulatory Policy Institute - Competition in the Provision of Water Services.

Since the unveiling of the report presentations and discussions of water related issues have intensified at the RPI. At the Annual Competition Policy Conference (2008) there were three presentations considering 'Prospects for Competition in Water Services'.

In July 2008 Chris Decker and George Yarrow presented for the Cave Review of Competition and Innovation in water markets, the paper was titled The abstractions regime and discovering the value of water.

George Yarrow also delivered the 2008 Beesley Lecture entitled 'Discovering the Value of Water' [7].


Regulatory Policy Institute


  1. Regulatory policy Institute About Us, Accessed 8th June 2009
  2. Regulatory policy Institute About Us, Accessed 8th June 2009
  3. Regulatory Policy Institute About the RPI, People Accessed 8th June 2009, Web Archive
  4. Regulatory Policy Institute Research Accessed 8th June 2009
  5. Byatt I and Sutherland A, (2006) Presentation to the Regulatory Policy Institute The Utility Perspective, Accessed 8th June 2009
  6. Regulatory Policy Institute Jan 2008 Home page Accessed 8th June, Web Archive,
  7. Regulatory Policy Institute Events Accessed 8th June 2009