The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is to significantly increase its presence outside London with the establishment of offices in Manchester and Darlington.
Manchester will be the home of the new Digital Markets Unit (DMU), which has been established to oversee a new regulatory regime for the most powerful digital firms.
The DMU’s remit is to promote greater competition and innovation and protect consumers and businesses from unfair practices.
“Manchester has been chosen because it offers a diverse and highly-skilled labour market as one of the top locations for digital as well as legal, IT and finance roles,” said the CMA.
“The opportunity for the DMU to build links with local universities also made it an attractive destination.
“The DMU will form a Digital Hub alongside the Digital Regulation Co-operation Forum (DRCF).”
The CMA board has also approved a proposal to set up a new CMA Microeconomics Unit (MU) to be co-located with the government’s new Economic Campus in Darlington.
The MU wil l take on the CMA’s existing economic research and evaluation function, produce the annual State of Competition report and carry out research into supply-side reforms to improve productivity.
The CMA’s State of Competition project is also being expanded to consider the impact of competition on consumers at different income levels.
The CMA already has nearly 60 staff working in offices in Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff, with an ambition to expand in those locations.
The roles in Manchester and Darlington will be a mix of new and existing positions.
CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said: “Last year I pledged that the CMA would get closer to the needs of people right across the UK.
“Since then, we have taken action on issues from refunds on package holidays to tackling excessive pricing on key drugs.
“Now we are going a step further and bringing our own offices and staff closer to more of the people we serve.
“Manchester and Darlington will be ideal locations for our teams whether we’re ensuring fairness in the tech sector or doing vital research to inform future work.
“There are bright and talented people everywhere and we want to do our part to give them the opportunities they deserve.”
The CMA will now seek suitable accommodation for approximately 50 CMA staff to be based in Manchester initially.
The ambition is for the CMA office in Manchester to comprise more than 200 roles by 2025.
While discussions on the Darlington project are at a very early stage the CMA envisages the MU will have around 25 economists.