We’re determined to put consumers at the heart of the government’s priorities. It’s vital when key decisions are being made about the UK’s future every day.
We’ve already reached out to new and returning ministers, and we will work with and challenge the government to deliver on our vision for consumers – one that embraces the benefits of the digital revolution, but ensures that no one is left behind.
At the heart of this are a number of core, interlinked issues; connectivity, payments, and fraud.
Too many people still do not have decent broadband and mobile connectivity. We recently revealed that eight in 10 areas in the UK lack full 4G mobile coverage from all four operators.
Whilst we welcome the government’s ambition to speed up the rollout of full-fibre broadband, we want to see a clear plan for how they will meet the target of 95% 4G coverage across the UK, including coverage from all four operators.
We must also not leave people who use cash behind. The creation of a government taskforce to protect cash is a welcome step, but the government and regulators should consider all options – including legislation – to preserve access to cash for as long as it is needed, and ensure that we don’t sleepwalk into a cashless society before we are ready.
Access to cash is currently vital, but we can’t ignore that the way we pay for things is changing.
Digital banking and payments services continue to grow, and so it’s critical we make sure everyone has the access and skills to use them, so that we’re all ready and able to benefit from the opportunities that the digital revolution brings.
However, alongside these opportunities, fraudsters have found new ways to target and exploit victims. The number and complexity of scams is vast and shocking.
Last year alone, bank transfer fraud cost consumers £228.4 million. But, with the right commitment from government and industry, much more can be done to protect people from fraud.
Looking further ahead
We want to see the government strengthening the UK’s regime for enforcing consumer rights. The UK has world-leading consumer rights, but the systems that underpin and enforce them are no longer fit for purpose.
We have clear recommendations for building a consumer enforcement system that protects consumers from harm and ensures that when things do go wrong, companies take responsibility and are held to account.
These include expanding the role of the Competition and Markets Authority and giving independence to the Office for Product and Safety Standards so it is more robustly equipped to deal with big industry players.
As we leave the EU, shape our future relationship with the EU and negotiate new trade deals, the role and perspective of Which? should be absolutely crucial. We set out our position in our Consumer Charter for Brexit, which outlined key tests for the government to meet to deliver for consumers; around standards, choice, rights and price.
We now stand ready to ensure that the government seizes opportunities to deliver better outcomes for consumers, including benefits around price and choice in trade deals, while minimising risks and without weakening the rights and standards we currently enjoy and value.
Finally, pensions remains an area where we are determined to improve the consumer experience.
From delivering pensions dashboards displaying clear and concise information around fees and charges, to boosting workplace pension savings by increasing the median contribution rate and addressing the ‘motherhood pension penalty’, there are opportunities for the new government to help more people plan better for retirement.
The new Prime Minister has already indicated his priorities, and Secretaries of State will set out plans for their individual departments.
It’s clear that Brexit will dominate much of the political bandwidth in the coming months, but progress must also be made on domestic policy.
On both fronts, we’ll continue to make the case for consumers to be central to the government’s decision making process.
Do you agree with the focus areas we’ve raised? What do you think should be a priority for the new government?