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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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john fitch says:
7 December 2019

I read recently that this Government has issued a decree that all people coming from any EU country will have to use a barometric Passport issued by their home country, and the ID card will not be acceptable.
The result will be catastrophic to the UK Education sector and will certainly effect the level of inbound Tourism from the EU.
Why has there been no response to this, and no challenge to Mr Johnson who is peddling his line that he has to benefit of the UK at heart??

I think you mean biometric password, John. A barometric one might put us under too much pressure.
I had not appreciated the potential effect on education.

If biometric passports minimise the possibilty of undesirables entering the UK then it seems a worthwhile precautionary measure. I do not know whether they are available to all legitimate visitors but, if they are, education should not be affected.

Phil says:
8 December 2019

Biometric passports are now standard across the EU and have been for some years although the data stored on the chip varies. In some states it’s a digital image of the holder, others include fingerprint data.

The pension service should be made accountable for their actions and be allowed to be sued by pensioners without penalty. they are a law unto themselves and are run by people with a God complex. I have had £23 per week from my pension and nobody will explain why. I was promised a return phone call within 10 working days that was 8 weeks ago, I am still waiting. Bring them to book.

You should have raised this with your Member of Parliament by now. You will have a fresh chance the week after next when the new House of Commons is sworn in.

Kevin McCormick says:
8 December 2019

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.

I completely agree!

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!

Geoffrey Moseley says:
9 December 2019

We need to protect our rights to use cash the big boys as I call them seem to constantly push towards using plastic or phones cash has been around for hundreds of years so if it’s not broke don’t fix it.

David J Wilcox says:
12 December 2019

Yes add me to the list please i agree

Alf Holley says:
8 December 2019

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 –

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.

David J Wilcox says:
12 December 2019

Yes I agree with above But my mother brought me up in 1st floor rented flat with a outside loo in the garden & we had a tin bath for our once a week bath we had no carpets just lino on floors no tv just a radio second hand toys for christmas & birthdays, we had bread & jam or beans on toast for tea,But now single mums find money for phones,wall hang TVs with Sky TV, But cant find money to feed the kids,So they have to use food banks.

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Looksherie… We lived in t’shoe box, in’t middle of t’road…

You ‘ad a shoe box?? Luxury – sheer luxury. All we ‘ad was a ‘ole.

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You do realise Roger and I are only parroting Python?

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Python was a Universty comedy team that wrote a number of very amusing sketches. This one was The Four Yorkshiremen and the script is here.

The full sketch in here on YouTube.

The original sketch was a parody of nostalgic recollection. I would surmise a lot of people of a certain age could relate to David Wilcox’s post. I certainly can (except we didn’t have the luxury of a garden for the outside loo) but I believe his generalisation about single mothers was, however, unwarranted.

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Oh my – I truly thought it was an ubiquitous sketch, up there in the top 20 topped by Four Candles…. And anyone brought up with memories of an outside privy was around in TW3 and Python era. Thanks for the link, Ian.
As a pre-school infant I was bathed in a zinc/galv steel tub in front of the coal fire. There was also an outside toilet (but an inside one too).

Thanks, Duncan.

Keith Turner says:
8 December 2019

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:
8 December 2019

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.

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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:
8 December 2019

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:
8 December 2019

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:
8 December 2019

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 and the amount spent will be clues 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 –

The Consumer Contract Regulations govern the return of goods bought on-line that you wish to reject and return –

John wrote: “I am not sure how easy refunds should be; they come at a great cost to consumers generally.”   I agree. I can understand why it is necessary to allow retailers to accept returns of unwanted goods and many shops also offer free returns, but this costs the business money and the cost will be passed on to all customers. I understand that it is commonplace to buy several sizes or colours and return those that are not wanted – even all of them. I wonder if it is legal for traders to offer a voucher or other incentive to regular customers who rarely return goods.

Retailers online are obliged to accept unwanted goods, providing they meet certain sensible conditions. This is one of the penalties of running an online business where the customer cannot view the product before purchase. I’m happy to order a couple of pairs of shoes online and send back the one that doesn’t fit best. It is a part of the business model. The retailer has the option of charging for the return according to the CRA 2015: “You do not have to pay the cost of returning the goods to you, provided you told the consumer before the contract was made that they would be liable for such costs.

Fred Bloggs says:
8 December 2019

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

S.Harker says:
9 December 2019

What is happening regarding Women`s O.A.P. Pensions. Those who were born in the 1950`s have lost out big time. Where has that money gone to?

Patricia says:
9 December 2019

All these issues are very important. The technical landscape is changing rapidly and governments MUST keep up with the changes to prevent fraudsters from gaining the advantage. Any delay in responding to new technology in respect to law and legislation will enable even more fraud as time goes by. There should also be more meaningful punishment for fraud, whether online or otherwise. Governments have been extremely slow to respond with updated legal processes and this is not acceptable as the current situation allows fraud to become a huge problem long before there is any law or legal process to deal with it.

Alexandra Queensberry says:
9 December 2019

For at least three successive governments nothing has been done to help our young people with living accommodation; overwhelmingly those who live and work in cities – particularly London. Rents are sky high and to ‘get a foot on the property ladder’ is impossible for many and means real hardship for those who just about manage. Then there are the many without anywhere at all to lay their heads except in the open.

Meanwhile, huge blocks of real estate are still sold to overseas companies and oligarchs who leave them empty till they can be sold on for fat profits.

I see MP’s salaries in 2019 are £79,468 >Jeremy Corbyn has already announced his plans to introduce a 45% income tax rate on those earning over £80,000 and a 50% rate on those with salaries of £125,000 and above. I see he would save him and all his MP buddies from the rise then!!

Gentle reminder to everyone – this conversation is about what we want the next government to do for consumers, regardless of who wins the election. Please can everyone steer clear of party politics? Thank you! 🙂

On this day and age of the superfast internet speed. Where some smaller and poorer countries have better and faster broadband than us.
I say this as I live in southern Scotland, and the Max speed I have ever had is 0.20 Mbps that is 200 Kbps . Which any body in this country now will admit this is disgusting slow. Every Politicians has said we will all have superfast internet speed by the end of 2020. But BT has stated as I live on the end of a rural line I will Never have superfast broadband. Because it would cost them far too much, for only one person or home to put a couple of green boxes in and Fibreoptic to my home.
So much for Politicians Promises. We will do this (as long as it doesn’t cost the company who puts it in too much.)
So much for thier Promises to the people….

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Outrageous funeral costs. These keep escalating, we here in South East Wales have been informed that yet another humongous increase is on the cards for 2020, an increase so high above inflation. How is it being allowed? It will return to times a century ago when dead bodies were thrown over the perimeter wall of churches and covered with shallow soil – families just didn’t have any money. I find funeral costs repugnant.