The CMA’s annual plan published on 23 March 2023 details the CMA’s new approach by setting out its ambition and medium-term priorities for the next three years and key areas in which the CMA intends to focus in the upcoming 12 months. Here are the highlights from a consumer regulatory perspective –

Medium-term priorities

People should be confident they are getting great choices and fair deals

The CMA intends to focus on areas where consumers spend the most money and time – particularly in relation to people who are vulnerable. It intends to consider the specific context in which people may need particular help to protect them from harm and get a fair deal. To do this, it will be active across areas such as:

  • having somewhere to live
  • feeding ourselves and families
  • getting about and travelling
  • learning, playing and socialising
  • caring for ourselves and others

The CMA wants to ensure people are protected from harmful practices which it notes will benefit people but also businesses that do the right thing. The plan particularly highlights that people should be able to make well-informed, genuine choices based on accurate information.

Benefit the whole UK economy to grow productively and sustainably

Following the CMA's advice to the Government on how competition and consumer rules can help to meet environmental goals and the announcement of a new Sustainability Taskforce, the CMA will continue taking action to accelerate the UK’s transition to a net zero economy and promote environmental sustainability.

In supporting growth of the UK economy, the CMA intends to prioritise sectors which particularly have a positive impact on innovation and productivity – for example, markets at an early stage of development but with potential for significant growth and markets that seem to have significant productivity gaps.

How it intends to action these priorities 


The CMA intends to:

  • adapt its business model by expanding use of data and AI, leveraging more external expertise and partners, and working more flexibility and dynamically
  • build and reinforce critical capabilities by sustaining excellence, developing digital, AI and tech capability, implementing ex ante remedies and strengthening horizon-scanning and advocacy capabilities
  • upgrade the employee value proposition by giving unique opportunities to staff, developing apprenticeship and graduate schemes, building a diverse and inclusive environment, and providing a more flexible work environment.

The CMA comments that its "prioritisation principles", which it uses to guide its choice of work are:

  • Impact: the likely effects of intervention by the CMA in a given situation
  • Strategic significance: whether intervention would fit with the CMA's strategy and/or with other CMA objectives
  • Risk: the likelihood of a successful outcome
  • Resources: the resource implications of intervening

Focus in the next 12-months

In working towards its medium-term priorities, the CMA has set out where it intends to focus in the next 12-months:

People should be confident they are getting great choices and fair deals

The CMA notes it will be looking at areas of essential spending where consumers are under particular pressure. This includes:

  • Accommodation and caring for ourselves and others. This follows, a recent market study of children’s social care market and suitability and affordability of placements in children’s homes or foster care, and work in the fertility industry. There is also mention of further work in the accommodation sector following a market study into housebuilding and a separate project considering consumer rights relating to those in rented homes.
  • Pressure selling and false and misleading practices – particularly through online choice architecture (see our update on online choice architecture here). The CMA notes it will also be continuing with its “Online Rip-Off Tip-Off” campaign.

Benefit the whole UK economy to grow productively and sustainably


The plan notes the CMA will:

  • continue its work on green claims and on energy following its recent “greenwashing” investigations to ensure consumers can make informed choices about the climate impact of the goods and services they use
  • undertake a number of competition-related actions (see the annual plan for further details around what the CMA is intending to do from a competition regulatory perspective)

Where is consumer regulatory action heading?

The CMA’s plan is very closely tied to the topical issues of cost of living, slow down of the UK economy, climate change, and new technologies. It looks like we can expect more action in these areas but also more unpacking of the issues by the CMA.

It also sounds like there’s been a shake up at the CMA with new leadership at the regulator wanting to improve and modernise how it operates – including with investment into technology and staff. This investment suggests the CMA is gearing up to take a more active role in regulating consumer laws post-Brexit and ahead of the new pro-competition digital regulatory regime that the Government has committed to introducing through new legislation in the current parliamentary session.