As custom dictates, PhonepayPlus, the UK regulator of premium rate telephone services (PRS), has, along with its New Code, published its Business Plan and Budget 2015/16. This follows consultation with industry and formal approval by Ofcom.
The Business Plan and Budget 2015/16 sets out plans:
• to work together with industry to improve compliance levels and trust in the market;
• to help consumers use premium rate services with confidence and thereby contribute to a strong, well-regarded market;
• and to ensure that regulation is efficient and effective, keeping pace with market change and facilitating innovation.
The total cost of PRS regulation for 2015/16 is £4,444,075 including VAT. This comprises a core levy budget of £4,075,087 including VAT and a Registration Scheme budget of £368,988.
The total cost of regulation will decrease by 1.1% in real terms taking account of inflation (RPI as measured in January 2015) and it has been frozen in cash terms. This real terms cut in PhonepayPlus’ budget follows the period 2011/14 in which PhonepayPlus reduced the budget by 24.5% in real terms. This was done by improving efficiency while maintaining overall effectiveness, despite rising costs for the organisation.
PhonepayPlus’ primary obligation is to be an effective regulator of premium rate services and to ensure that it is funded sufficiently to do so.
PhonepayPlus will continue to seek efficiency savings wherever these can be made without compromising either effectiveness or outcomes for consumers. This is a significant challenge, in recent years the external cost pressures on PhonepayPlus have increased substantially. Our Business Plan contains specific proposals to tackle costs by improving market compliance and the consumer journey, seeking further savings in overheads, and by identifying the drivers of legal costs and any changes that could reduce them. Close cooperation between the industry and PhonepayPlus will be vital to achieving savings in these areas.
The adjusted levy has been set at 0.6%. The revised levy and registration fee will apply from 1 April 2015. The adjusted rate is the amount PhonepayPlus is required to levy once the costs of regulation are offset by other income such as fines. A number of factors contribute to the calculation of the actual rate levied. Further information on how the levy is calculated can be found in our consultation on our Business Plan & Budget 2015/16.
The Registration Scheme
The registration fee will rise by £5 to £155 plus VAT from 1 April 2015. Registration is mandatory for most providers operating in the premium rate market and sits alongside the Code of Practice. The benefits of the Registration Scheme to the industry and PhonepayPlus include: providing transparency of the market, assistance in Due Diligence Risk Assessment and Control, easy access for consumers to customer care arrangements.