Sunshine and snow!

UKRN and our stakeholder engagement in Northern Ireland

Published: 18th January 2024

As the sun was shining and the snow was falling, we were confident our trip to Northern Ireland was going to be very special.

Ahead of us, was a few eagerly anticipated events, that we had carefully planned in partnership, with The Utility Regulator, The Consumer Council and the team at Stormont, as part of our wider engagement strategy across the devolved nations.

Bathed in sunshine, we opened our event with a networking lunch in the splendour of Stormont. In what potentially was going to be a key week for the Assembly, we were delighted to be joined by many MLA’s from across the political landscape, along with key stakeholders and a significant number of our regulatory members.

The theme of the event was ‘regulatory engagement in Northern Ireland’ and the networking lunch was followed by a very engaging panel discussion which lead into the Q&A session.

Pragmatic reflections and exchanges, helped drive a real understanding and ask of the needs and expectations of consumers and businesses, before the event was closed by John French, Chief Executive from The Utility Regulator.

Panellists included the CMA, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Council and Utility Regulator.

Day 2 started with heavy snow in Belfast, and was opened with a networking breakfast at the office of UKRN member, The Utility Regulator.  This event was again planned in partnership, primarily driven by our colleagues from The Utility Regulator and The Consumer Council, with UKRN playing a cameo role.

We were delighted that so many of our regulator members stayed overnight to also attend this excellent event, which centred on ‘Positive interventions to help consumers in vulnerable circumstances’. It presented the opportunity for regulators to mix with many additional key stakeholders and hear from panellists around the lived experience and day to day challenges being faced around the cost of living for consumers.   

Really engaging events, really well attended which facilitated excellent collaboration opportunities across UKRN members, key stakeholders, MLA’s and again showcased the real value and importance of our measured, devolved nations activity.

Whatever the weather threw at us, the welcome in Belfast was very warm!

Read what some of our stakeholders who attended the events had to say here:

Timely opportunities to reflect

“Thank you to UKRN, UREGNI and CCNI for bringing together key stakeholders and facilitating these events. Both offered timely opportunities to reflect on the cost of living crisis in Northern Ireland, particularly how pressures continue to impact people’s wellbeing and day to day experiences.  It is also invaluable to hear how regulators are responding and the interventions that are being taken forward at pace to improve outcomes. It is clear affordability will remain a key area of concern and there are lots for learnings for feeding into UKRN’s future cost of living plans.”

Sharing experience, expertise and insights

“The UK Regulators Network is a great convenor of the key decision makers in economic regulation, who come together to share their experience, expertise and insights from across the regulated sectors of the UK. Today’s event at Stormont illustrated this once again, highlighting the need for collaboration and effective consumer engagement, especially in the context  of the ongoing cost of living crisis and a political vacuum in Northern Ireland.”

A positive difference for consumers most in need

“The opportunities to network and come together in person have been few and far between over the last few years. The events over the last two days highlight the benefits of coming together to discuss the shared challenges that regulators, service providers, and governments face to protect consumers in vulnerable situations from cost of living pressures. These challenges are significant and no single organisation can solve it on their own – events like these help us identify where and how we can make a positive difference for consumers most in need.”