Which? calls for consumer agenda to be front and centre for the next government

New Which? research shows tackling problems in social care for older people, energy prices, and financial fraud and scams must be top priorities for the next Government.

The consumer champion has today (Saturday, 29 April) published its “Consumer Agenda for Government” urging all political parties to use the forthcoming election to address critical consumer issues, which are the source of significant detriment across the UK, and of great concern to the public.

The importance of this agenda is underpinned by new research that shows almost two thirds (65%) of those polled said tackling issues around social care for elderly people must be a top priority for the next Government.

Taking action on energy prices, which have gone up more than 40% for gas and 35% for electricity over the last 10 years, was a priority for more than half (51%) of respondents.

Meanwhile, concern around financial fraud and scams, which affect more than three million consumers a year, was highlighted by almost a third (31%) of people.

Home buying and selling (27%), saving enough for retirement (21%) and improving issues around rail services (20%) were also further priorities.

Which? wants to see:

  • Action to improve people’s experience of care homes, including tackling any breaches of consumer law , such as unfair fees and charges or poor complaint handling.

  • A clear position on energy market competition, ensuring that any intervention will have an end date, does not lead to higher overall prices, and does not stifle improvements to energy company performance or innovation.

  • An ambitious agenda to tackle fraud, including action to improve how customer data is kept safe and ensuring that financial institutions do more to protect consumers from bank transfer scams.

  • Improvements to make home-buying easier, ensuring that estate agents deliver a better service and that the conveyancing process is simplified.

  • Swift delivery of the pensions dashboard to give people easy access to essential information about all of their retirement savings in one place.

  • A new Transport Ombudsman and new powers for the rail regulator to hold train companies to account for poor passenger services.

Peter Vicary-Smith, Which? CEO, said:
“The next Government must take this opportunity to address the issues that matter most to the public, committing to reforming essential markets so that they work better for customers. Only then will it maintain consumer confidence and ensure a thriving economy as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.”

Which?’s ‘Consumer Agenda for Government’ sets out a wide range of specific commitments needed to reform these essential markets; ensure that consumers’ concerns are properly heard in the boardroom; and to maintain and enhance vital consumer rights and protections as we leave the EU.


Editor’s notes

  1. Which?’s ‘Consumer Agenda for Government’ will be published on Saturday 29th April here: www.which.co.uk/consumeragenda

  2. Research: Populus, on behalf on Which? spoke to 2130 nationally representative UK adults via an online poll between the 19th and 20th April 2017. Respondents were asked to select up to three consumer issues they believe the Government should prioritise next, out of a prompted list of ten issues.

  3. Consumer spending accounts for more than 60 per cent of the economy, equal to £100 billion a month. Maintaining consumer confidence is critical to the success of the UK economy.

  4. Energy prices: Electricity and gas prices are quoted in real terms. [Source: Table 2.1.2, DECC Quarterly Energy Prices data (Q4 2016, March 2017)]

  5. Fraud: In the year to September 2016 there were over 3.5million fraud offences in England and Wales.

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