The Government must protect rights and access to good quality and affordable products after Brexit. Our guest, Kelly Tolhurst MP, the Consumer Minister, sets out how this can happen.
This is a guest post by Kelly Tolhurst MP. All views expressed are Kelly’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.
In the UK, we have a long history of strong consumer protection. UK consumers enjoy high standards and trust they will be protected.
In the most recent EU Consumer Conditions Scoreboard, the UK came top of the EU for consumer trust in organisations, retailers and service providers.
It also showed that UK consumers are the least exposed to illicit practices from domestic retailers; these include things like persistent sales calls or fake limited time ‘offers’.
Which? has played an important role in achieving this success, providing well-researched advice to consumers and acting as a valued independent voice advocating for the interests of consumers.
Maintaining rights and protections
Consumers in the UK rightly expect those rights and protections to be maintained and to develop as the economy and society change. Many have concerns about the impact of Brexit. The Government is committed to ensuring that after Brexit consumers continue to be protected.
There are a number of ways in which the UK has gone further than the EU, for example, we legislated in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 for a bespoke regime to protect consumers buying digital content ahead of many other countries.
Leaving the EU with a deal remains the Government’s top priority. Of course, we are preparing for all possible outcomes, and so planning for an exit without a deal will continue too.
The Government will progress with its extensive preparations to ensure the country is ready for every eventuality.
In any scenario, it is crucial that people get the right information so you know what’s changing and what’s not changing. Our general advice remains the same – know your rights, read the terms and conditions, and only make the purchase if you have trust and confidence in the seller.
It’s important to emphasise that your consumer rights when buying in the UK will not change whether we leave with a deal or not. The Government has taken the necessary steps to ensure that UK consumers buying from UK traders will not see any differences in their rights or protections.
Issues that may require your action
There are however other issues where there are differences and you may need to take action.
Around now many of you will be thinking about your holidays so, for example, you should check if you need to renew your passport.
Or if you want to drive in the EU after we leave, you may need to get an International Driving Permit from the Post Office.
I am pleased to see Which? has launched its Brexit hub providing lots of useful advice to address these consumer issues. Other consumer organisations have some very helpful guidance as well.
The Government also recognises its duty to inform consumers about how leaving the EU will affect you and advise on the steps you need to take to prepare for Brexit.
This is why we have set up a platform to help people easily find the latest information on any aspect of Brexit, with the actions you may need to take.
Visiting www.gov.uk/euexit will help you find out information such as whether you need to renew your passport; what you need if you want to drive in the EU; how your consumer protections may be affected and many other things.
I encourage you to have a look. Keep checking back as these pages will be kept up to date.
Your feedback will also be used to improve them so please use the tools provided to help us make it ever more useful.
Which? has emphasised the importance of a Brexit that works for consumers. I agree.
We start from a strong position with well-established consumer rights that will remain after we leave. We also have to deliver the stability and continuity that consumers want and the Government will continue its commitment to deliver the best outcome for the people of the UK.
This was a guest post by Kelly Tolhurst MP. All views expressed were Kelly’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.
Do you have concerns about consumer protections after Brexit? What are the issues that matter to you the most?