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Regulators have put even more emphasis on how companies interact with their consumers. For instance, Ofwat has introduced the concept of ‘social contracts’ while Ofgem has created the Consumer Challenge Groups and held public hearings as part of RIIO-2 price controls. Similar types of challenge groups have also been used in the transport sector.

Increasing the legitimacy of utility companies in the eyes of consumers requires more than demonstrating consumer value; it also encompasses consumers’ willingness to pay. Reflecting direct feedback and participation from consumer champions in the price review process is an important part of building consumer trust.

Whether you are a private company looking to quantify the social impacts of your portfolio of activities, a regulator trying to encourage companies to deliver social value or seeking support to design and evaluate regulatory systems that involve a consumer voice, we look forward to the opportunity to assist you.

Examples of our work in this area include:

  • Supporting the UK water companies, through the industry research body UK Water Industry Research, with the development of a measure of water poverty.
  • Reviewing Sydney Water’s current customer engagement processes.
  • Supporting the Northern Ireland Utility Regulator (UR) to develop its first Residential Consumer Insight Tracker, which explored a range of issues with residential consumers including preferences, behaviours and attitudes to inform UR’s consumer protection and engagement strategy.
  • Supporting National Grid, on a secondment basis, to develop methodologies for valuing the benefits to consumers of their activities.
  • Supporting Ireland’s Commission for Aviation Regulation to review consumer engagement techniques used by other regulators and recommend options for effective passenger engagement within the context of the 2019 charge determination for Dublin Airport.