Government to act on nuisance calls in new year

The Government is to launch a consultation into making nuisance call regulations easier to enforce and changing rules around consent for direct marketing, communications minister Ed Vaizey has told Marketing Week, with action likely to follow in the new year. 

Ed Vaizey
Communications, culture and creative industries minister Ed Vaizey.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Direct Marketing Association last night (31 October), Vaizey said he is “keen on seeing if we can change the regulations to make them more realistic”. Lowering the burden of proof the Information Commissioner’s Office needs to act against suspected offenders is one measure he cited with consensus support.

The minister’s comments came shortly after the publication of a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Nuisance Calls, chaired by backbench MPs Mike Crockart and Alun Cairns, which Vaizey said has done “an amazing amount of work on the issue”, making 16 recommendations including those above.

Changing rules around consumers’ consent for direct marketing is, however, a “thorny issue” that could be difficult to implement, Vaizey admitted. 

The APPG’s report, backed by consumer association Which?, argues consent should expire after one year, but the DMA says this would hamper direct marketing for purposes such as contract renewals and wants a longer time limit.

Any new regulations are likely to be made using ‘statutory instruments’ that don’t require a vote, Crockart and Cairns said at the launch of the APPG’s report earlier on Thursday. These could take effect early in 2014. Vaizey confirmed: “We don’t want heavy-handed regulations that take months to get through Parliament.”

The consultations and rule changes will follow publication of an action plan by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, authored by Vaizey, which was originally due to be released yesterday (31 October). It has now been delayed to take into account the findings of a separate Parliamentary Select Committee report, and will come out “in the next few weeks”, Vaizey said.

Other measures he is believed to be considering include enabling data sharing between regulators Ofcom and the ICO, new standards around tracing and displaying caller IDs and a consumer awareness campaign using messages printed on phone bills.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here