On March 21, the OFT published its annual plan setting out its priorities for 2013/14. The OFT stated that it does not intend to make any fundamental changes to the themes for 2013/14 but that the following financial services-related issues were of importance:
- Consumer credit enforcement. The OFT intends to scrutinize applications from businesses wishing to operate in high risk areas. It also intends to implement its consumer credit enforcement tools where there is an urgent need to protect the interests of consumers.
- Payday lending sector. The OFT has noted the widespread failure of the payday lending sector to comply with the law and OFT guidance and intends to implement a number of actions in response.
- Supporting transition to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The OFT has also announced that the transfer of the OFT's consumer credit responsibility to the FCA is expected to take effect from April 2014, and that it will be working with the FCA to ensure an effective transition. The OFT will also assist with establishing the FCA's interim permissions regime and ensure that any OFT-initiated enforcement action can be carried on and concluded by the FCA. The OFT is also developing a memorandum of understanding which will clearly set out the roles of the OFT and FCA.