Which? reveals mixed views about the economy in 2015

New data from the Which? Consumer Insight tracker reveals mixed consumer views about the country’s economic prospects for 2015, with people feeling more positive about their finances than they did a year ago, while their optimism in the wider economy is falling.

Our research shows that attitudes towards the economy improved steadily during 2014, but it peaked in August with 28% of people saying the economy was good. This has now fallen to 21% and fewer people now expect the economy to improve in the next 12 months compared to last year.

The Which? Consumer Insight Tracker shows:

  • Nearly half (45%) of consumers describe their finances as good, compared to 41%  a year ago, and only one in five (22%) say their finances are poor, an improvement on 26% a year ago.
  • Fewer consumers expect their finances to get worse in the coming year (26% compared to 29% last year).
  • And fewer people are experiencing financial distress – 28% of households report feeling squeezed, compared to 36% a year ago.
  • Overall satisfaction with household living standards has also improved, standing at 62%, compared to 55% in December 2013.
  • However, just 30% expect the economy to get better in 2015, compared to 36% at the start of 2014.
  • Three in ten (30%) actually expect the economy to get worse this year, up from 28% last year.

For the first time our research reveals that concerns about financial security and the quality of public services are rising up the agenda. Both issues will remain key to consumers in the run-up to the General Election in May.

People remain concerned about their longer term financial security – six in ten (58%) are worried about interest on their savings, with 57% concerned about the value of their pensions.

Concern about essential bills is falling as the rise in the price of essentials has slowed – 68% of people are worried about energy prices, down from 84% last year and 56% are worried about fuel prices, down from 78% last year.

However, half the UK population (53%) is worried about the quality of public services, the one area that has seen a rise in consumer concern in the last year.

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director said:

“Consumers start the year with a decidedly mixed view of 2015, with many expecting their personal finances to revive but more feeling pessimistic about the wider economy.

“People now tell us they are worried about public services and their savings and pension pots. In 2015 we need the Government to put consumers at the heart of policy, including reforms to public sector complaints handling, a national savings strategy and ensuring all pensions offer value for money.”

Notes to Editors

1.   Methodology: Populus, on behalf of Which?, interviewed a representative sample of 2,126 UK adults online between 12th and 14th December 2014.  Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all UK adults. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.  For more information see https://consumerinsight.which.co.uk

2.   In 2015 we need to see a Government that acts on consumer concerns and puts the interests of consumers at the centre of policy making, with more consumer power in private markets and public services. Our ‘Government for all Consumers’ document is calling for the next Government to deliver:

  • Better banking: Promote competition to drive up standards, make fees and charges fair and transparent, introduce a national savings strategy, and ensure that all retirement income products are value for money.
  • Affordable energy: Ring-fence domestic supply from generation businesses, make pricing easily comparable, and switch to a local approach to delivering energy saving measures.
  • Honest food: Develop a national strategy for the future of food production, make it easier for shoppers to compare prices, and maintain strong, independent food standards agencies.
  • Transparent telecoms: Reform the retail market in mobile and broadband, making it easier for consumers to switch.
  • Power for people in public services: Reform complaints handling, release more public sector data sets to enable better informed choices, and strengthen consumer protection in higher education.
  • A government for all consumers: Ensure the interests of consumers are given the priority they deserve by placing a consumer minister at the heart of government; establish a new independent body to ensure that regulators are improving the lives of consumers and keeping infrastructure costs under control.

A full copy of ‘A Government for all Consumers’ can be found here.

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