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Announcing our consumer agenda for government

Whoever wins the keys to No. 10 needs to deliver positive change for UK consumers. Our consumer agenda for government sets out our priorities.

Ahead of December’s General Election, we today launched our consumer agenda for government.

It sets out the commitments that we want all political parties to make to deliver positive changes for people across the UK.

From buying products online from a global marketplace, switching energy provider on a smartphone, or making payments from a banking app, the digital revolution has delivered opportunities for wider choice, faster deliveries and enhanced personalisation.

Tackling the challenges

But it hasn’t all been good news. Fraudsters use advances in technology for sophisticated scams, unsafe products repeatedly make their way onto online marketplaces, and fake reviews take advantage of consumers’ trust in online reviews.

At the same time, the move to digital is leaving behind those who have poor mobile or broadband coverage and those who rely on cash. We also need to ensure that those who aren’t online can still get a fair deal with their day-to-day bills.

We know from research we did this summer that eight in 10 areas in the UK lack full 4G coverage from all four operators.

And our latest research – published today – has found more than 250 communities across the UK that have poor cashpoint provision or no cashpoints at all.

Parties need to commit to policies that tackle the challenges and risks posed by this transformed consumer landscape, whilst widening access to this new digital world, and not leaving behind those who aren’t ready or able to go fully online in all areas of life, such as banking and making payments.

What we want to see

We need the next government to set out an ambitious, joined-up strategy to deliver an improved digital infrastructure that guarantees a reliable online connection for everyone – whether they are at home, at work or on the move.

The next government must work with industry and regulators to guarantee access to cash for as long as it is needed. And we must ensure that those who bank online are fully protected from Authorised Push Payment (bank transfer) scams.

We have one of the strongest consumer rights frameworks in the world, but the enforcement systems that support it are broken.

That’s why we’re calling for a stronger Consumer and Competition Authority that can stand up and impose tough sanctions on businesses that are breaking the law, as well as an independent product safety regulator to tackle dangerous products.

There must also be greater responsibility on online platforms and marketplaces to prevent scams, fake reviews and the sale of unsafe products, and security needs to be built into the design of connected devices.

Working with Which?

The next government must also work with Which? to build a fair and transparent pensions system –  one that enables people to track their pensions, addresses the pensions gender gap, and helps ensure that retirement income products are value for money.

On the increasingly important topic of trade, our position is clear; future trade policy must be built on the foundation stones of world-leading consumer standards, consumer rights and enhanced choice.

Whilst a future national food strategy must maintain the UK’s high food standards. 

We’re really excited about our consumer agenda for government, because we believe that it embraces the best of the modern consumer world, but will also help everyone have a stake in it.

Read our full manifesto here.

 

Which area from our consumer agenda is your top concern?
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Comments
Kevin McCormick says:
Today 15:01

i am worried about this moving towards a cashless society with indecent haste.
A cashless society is about as totalitarian as you can get. This gives banks, companies, the government COMPLETE CONTROL OVER THEIR CITIZENS.
As Henry Kissinger said ” He who controls the money, controls the nations “.
We must always have physical money, also we must try to force companies etc etc to provide telephone and postal addresses for older customers, they can’t expect everybody to do everything online.
I wish the WHICH would start a campaign for this as millions of people in Britain are affected by this.

Anita Miller says:
Today 15:34

I completely agree!

Francesca Milano says:
Today 16:01

I absolutely agree with Kevin…… Saw the show where our cards are being cloned at the actual bank teller machines. The crooks insert something to stop your card from getting back to you…….then when you leave, they take it. and your money…….so we cant let go of CASH!!!!!!!!
It’s awful.
There is no one I trust in government. All they care about is their power and money. I wish the whole country would deny any vote for any of them.Francesca

Which? already has a campaign called ‘Freedom to Pay. Our way.‘ to which 163,783 people have signed up. If you go to the top of this page above the Introduction and click on “campaigns” in the boxes along the top you can read more.

The campaign is necessarily focussed on making sure that there is a satisfactory provision of cash machines throughout the country which might not suit everybody, such as Francesca, but ATM fraud is now a rarity and there are other ways to get cash not involving the use of a machine or under controlled conditions.

Add me to that list. I don’t use plastic and if I have to I check the machines and keep my eye on the Bank. I want to see what I have got in my pocket so to speak, know what I am giving out, how much is being taken as its there in my hands. There seems to be no ‘safe and secure’ way of keeping your plastic data from being stolen, copied, cloned or abused by the most honest of people, company’s and Banks who even seem to pass the buck in cases of people that have been wronged. There have been enough documentary programmes showing and logging these underhand ways which people really should take notice and be aware!

Alf Holley says:
Today 15:42

An investigation into the soaring cost of funerals which affects every family in the UK.

The Competition and Markets Authority [CMA] is carrying out a market investigation into the supply of services by funeral directors at the point of need and the supply of crematoria services. It is currently in full swing and has a statutory deadline of 27 September 2020. You can read all about it here –
https://www.gov.uk/cma-cases/funerals-market-study

Liz Gardiner says:
Today 15:51

Saving the NHS

It’s impossible to pick a ‘Top’ concern, there are so many concerns to take into account but get brushed aside. We hear about the Food Banks as if they are a normal thing to have but we don’t hear about the ‘Baby Banks’ where the poor ‘have’ to go to feed and clothe their babies, ‘Hygiene Banks because of i.e. the poor not being able to afford soaps, creams, tubes of toothpaste etc ! We should not be living like this in this day and age. The homeless can now apply and get jobs, great? I don’t think so as they are ‘Zero Contract’ jobs. Single parents losing their rights so to the Elderly as they have been spoken of like a stain on our society, Teachers, Nurses, Doctors, GP’s our ‘NHS’. If you were to think all that matters urgently you would have a list as long as your arm. Police, Fire, Ambulance, Hospitals are all under attack which means yet again attacking the people that need these services. This is only a quarter of the story, get the rich to pay their dues, the Government keep saying they are but they are ‘not’. Banks got away with murder with our money, Big Company’s, offshore accounts, Politicians money scandals and what we don’t know about. I know I’ll have nasty comebacks as some of you will be singing prettily but I’m afraid there are those who are not so ‘lucky’ as to be in their shoes.

Keith Turner says:
Today 17:39

a stop to the persecution of motorist most people rely on their cars not as it is looked at as pleasure but merly get around most cars are used for journeys to and from work probably 80% of the time and if we all decided to leave our vehicles at home one Monday mourning the country would grind to a halt within 2 hours from about 6am in the mourning so put a stop to it

Poor broadband speeds in rural areas need improvement.

Jacqui Smith says:
Today 20:22

I want Which to focus on making big companies pay their taxes and to put the focus on off shore tax evasion. If everyone paid their taxes there would be more than enough funding for the NHS.

There can never be enough funding for the NHS. Demand will continue to expand to outpace provision. and new, more expensive, treatments and procedures will be developed that could improve care and extend life. Choices will always have to be made.

An NHS with too much money would be fair game for drugs companies and other suppliers, including consultants.

The NHS has already paid out $15 billion since 2015 to private enterprise John ,what is a human life worth ? not much nowadays when share prices and house-prices come first.
What isn’t being publicised is what will happen when its fully privatised or requires medical insurance to get medial/surgical help , just look to America for the answer.
A brand new private hospital was built in Clydebank it went bust even though it was a “Tory figurehead ” hospital , bought by Holyrood and is now providing good service to the west of Glasgow region.
Taxes are higher here to help with NHS Scotland but that’s acceptable to the majority of Scots.
The Scottish Ambulance Service works well I have used it –
Prescription charges were abolished in Scotland in 2011. Alex Neil defended the abolition in 2017 saying that restoring the charge would be a false economy, “Given that it costs on average £4,500 per week to keep patients in an acute hospital in Scotland, it’s actually cheaper to keep them at home and give them the drugs to prevent them going into hospital.”

Regardless of adverse publicity by the Tory dominated Scottish press the NHS Scotland is only one step down from God in Scots eyes I am not saying this as “alarmist ” most down south just don’t understand the fervour generated here at any thought of privatisation it would be fought “tooth & nail ” I am not making this up .
Big vote loser to any party up here who suggests “privatisation ” , forcing it down Scots throats would give a big separation vote for sure.

I don’t think any government would be stupid enough to try to privatise the NHS, Duncan.

Since the NHS is not in a position to manufacture the drugs it requires and the supplies needed to treat patients in hospitals it must buy them from private companies. It was ever thus from the earliest days of the NHS. At least it has rationalised its requirements instead of each establishment having its own specification, and set up a central procurement organisation which is relatively efficient and economical.

I am not sure what you mean by asking “what is a human life worth?” You cannot put a price on that, but so far as I can see the NHS provides the best of care and treatment that it can in the overwhelming majority of cases and I suspect its overall success rate is as good as any other example you could choose – especially bearing in mind that demand is completely unrestrained.

My concern is that politicians are promising more than can be delivered. Forty new hospitals? Only six have been identified so far plus a few rebuilds and extensions. Thousands of extra doctors and nurses? Where are the training places and educators to achieve that? One of the NHS’s problems is that it hasn’t been able to digest some of the additional money that has already been provided over the last few years. Providing more personnel is the bigger challenge.

The NHS has a never-ending wish list but it has to be funded from government revenues so choices are inevitable – and in a state system at least the choices are dictated by priority of need rather than of wealth, and that means that wherever possible the NHS should be free to obtain its requirements on the most favourable terms in order to keep the cost of treatment down while maintaining high quality standards.

Roger says:
Today 20:39

A coherent transport policy would help to keep Britain moving

. . . Only if combined with some control over the location of employment and planning controls over the development of residential property.

Brenda Stewart says:
Today 21:14

Which should be pressurising the Government to force businesses to quickly reduce single=use plastic, and to move much more quickly to a carbon neutral society,giving consumers advice on how to achieve this as, matter of urgency.

Michelle Sheree says:
Today 22:31

What I want to see is an end to online retailers trading under one name but then switching to another on your statement making it difficult to trace transactions if there’s a problem. I want to see an end to the retailer not putting a receipt in the delivery parcel automatically so you know who you purchased the item from so clearly showing the name of the company that matches the company website name/logo/actual physical address. No trading as, no holding co, no subsidiary no nonsense. Absolute clarity so that a refund is absolutely easy. There’s just too much smoke and mirrors. No hiding behind tiny text looking for parent companies, returns addresses. It’s an absolute disgrace that the consumer is treated this way. This level of transparency will immediately sharpen up ALL online retailers as they know they are easily found and Defective goods will be sent straight back to them. Let’s go a step further and make all online retailers by law offer free postal returns. This will immediately ensure quality control is at the heart of their trading activities. Result.

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, purchases made on-line can be returned free of charge.

I have never come across the problem of retailer identity. I keep a copy of my order and check off the delivery. There is also an e-mail order confirmation. The date of the transaction will be a clue to the specific payment.

I am not sure how easy refunds should be; they come at a great cost to consumers generally. But I am glad that on-line sellers are required to refund or replace faulty goods and to accept the return of goods rejected by the customer. This narrows the gap between on-line retailers and the high street shops.

To find out more about consumers’ rights see –
https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-rights-act

Fred Bloggs says:
Today 22:53

Brexit smells of dog poo . It should be cleaned away immediately so Britain can flourish on the world stage with sound partners and retreat into a shell