So, another year has come and gone and I have been looking back at my blogs to remind myself what I have been up to, as well as looking forward to next year.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of my time this year was spent working on the plans for a new regulatory regime. This has given me the opportunity to speak to a lot of people around the country and in Scotland and Northern Ireland at a range of events and conferences including our own conferences in London and Sheffield, our ACS forums and industry events including those organised by Doorwatch where I have had the opportunity to debate regulation, present and future, with door supervisors. We have also embraced the use of social media to extend our communication with those who cannot always come to such events and have held a number of online chat sessions, most recently in early December. We have had some frustrating technical problems with these, but they seem to work well and we will be holding more next year.
The Government’s plans for the future of regulation have firmed up and it seems to me that the key building blocks are now established: replacement of the SIA with a new independent regulator outside the government sector; business licensing supported by robust sanctions and individual registration. We now have to work through the details of how this will work and I expect the detailed consultations to take place next year so that we can start work on the changes after the Olympics. A summary of the expected changes is available on our website.
The other topic I referred to earlier this year was our accounts and the action we have been taking to reduce our costs. This allowed us to hold our licence fees at 2007 levels until this year and we have now announced that licence application fees and ACS fees will be reduced by 10% from 1 January 2012.
As well as the fee reductions, we have been improving the service to our customers. This has included issuing over 80% of licences in 15 days or less over the last month; the introduction of a text messaging service to remind licence holders when renewals are due; and the growth of ACS membership.
I have also found over recent weeks that the preparations for the Olympics are becoming increasingly intense. This is an area where we have been working and planning with partners for a number of years and these plans are now being brought into operation. I have no doubt that the SIA and the industry will be kept busy with the Games during 2012 and the successful delivery of the Games presents a great challenge and opportunity to us all.
Thank you to all of the industry for its involvement, challenges and support over 2011. I look forward to 2012 and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous and secure New Year.