What can we learn from previous examples of deliberative engagement in the regulated industries?

In 2016 the Consumer Futures Unit (the part of Citizens Advice Scotland which has a statutory responsibility for representing consumers in the regulated industries) commissioned a research project to explore:

What deliberative research has been done in the UK and internationally within the regulated industries (water, energy and post) and what can we learn from this?

The Report

Drawing from 31 case studies, and our wider understanding of good practice in deliberative engagement, the report:

  • provides an assessment of the strengths and limitations of a range of deliberative methods for engaging consumers in complicated and technical infrastructure and policy matters;
  • presents an analysis of how successful different methods have proved in providing information to commissioning bodies that answered their research question, added new insight or knowledge relating to consumer preferences, and provided outputs that were useful to policy and decision makers;
  • identifies occasions where there is clear evidence of impact from the engagement, and draws together a list of common conditions that appear to strengthen the likelihood of an engagement process delivering change.

The concluding sections of the report considers a range of cross-cutting factors that are relevant to planning for a successful engagement process (in the regulated industries or otherwise) and presents a detailed assessment of the learning gained by previous commissioners, policy makers and practitioners on topics including:

  • Participation and representation;
  • Optimal numbers of participants;
  • Incentive payments;
  • The role of experts;
  • Comparative costs and value for money;
  • Conveying complex information;
  • Reporting; and
  • The process of commissioning deliberative research.

The full text of the Public Participation in the Regulated Industries Report is published on the CFU’s website.