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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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Rosie Thomson says:
14 November 2019

Thank you Which for all you do for a fairer society. One of th few organisations one can trust nowadays!

John Huddart says:
6 December 2019

Here, here! Which is a beloved British institution who have proven time and time again their stalwart defence of the consumer. Thanks guys, keep up the good work!

I cannot believe only a few people have mentioned the clmate. If we dont sort that we certainly wont be needing to make noise about pensions or banking. Just shows the levels of ignorance, I despair…

what more are you expecting the UK to do? We already lead the rest of the world on this. Try getting countries like China to abandon the use of coal.

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The dangers of 5G to the health and wellbeing of people and all animals of is of greatest concern.

Can you enlighten me, what are these dangers of 5G?

More help for people who suffer from Alzheimer’s why this issue is not being prioritised while families are having to fund their parents condition I cannot understand

Better control of criminal gangs supplying to vulnerable, especially young vulnerable, individuals as it is becoming apparent that early onset dementia is increasing dramatically.This is thought to be due to drug use by young people

End taxes on pension people in a pension scheme pay taxes when they earn and then when they retire have to pay taxes on pensions…hmmm just not right. While im here put an end to these telephone charges for making complaints or questioning an account or bill of some description etc its just theft, these sort of calls should be standard rates not stupid rates.

Contributions to pensions, when you earn, are tax free. You only pay tax on your pension income when you take it, if you exceed the tax threshold.

Ron Edmond says:
14 November 2019

Pensions are a most understood area. The younger generation really do not appreciate the level of contributions that are required to ensure a decent standard of living in retirement. In the current era of virtually no interest to speak of there should be an awareness campaign of the need to pay approx 20% of salary to secure a decent pension in retirement.

There is a need to promote advice that pensions need to be started in younger life – delay will be costly.

I am one of the few who has taken control of my pension and invested in a SIPP and purchased an industrial property – rather late in life at 53. I took a 10 year mortgage and virtually all the rents received in the 10 years went to pay off the mortgage. I took my pension at 67 allowing me to receive the maximum allowable tax free lump sum.
As a property owner in retirement your capital is somewhat protected and I have a nett return on investment of some 7% which is far more than most current investments..
The rules of SIPP’s are in need of overhaul
1.The Sipp needs to borrow more than the current 50% allowed – I suggest 75%
2. SIPP providers need to have their charges legally capped – my original provider was Union Pension Trustees who were excellent but have been acquired by James Hay Partnership who I am totally disatisfied with with persistent above inflation increases and new fees which have more than doubled their charges
3. Death after age 75 incurs a 55% tax charge – this is very unfair on dependants – if transferred to another pension or a widow this needs to be tax free – in the alternate if cashed in to be passed on to other recipients should come under the terms of inheritance tax.

DGGatherer says:
14 November 2019

Fair comments but do we really think that there will be a state pension in 25 years ie when/if I retire. Or 50 years when my nephew might look to retire?

Allan C Mc says:
14 November 2019

I shouldn’t worry about your state pension.
The Tories want to raise retirement age to 75.
If you do live to that age you won’t be claiming it for long.
All this moving the goal posts because the state pension pot has been mismanaged, dipped into and squandered. Where do you think the tories got the money for tax cuts for their cronies?

Retirement age had to be revised, as more and more people are living longer through generally better health, and the previous pension age costs are not sustainable, unless the working population wants to accept a very large increase on personal taxes. You can’t have it both ways, lower taxes for a better standard of living, or high taxation for earlier retirements.
State pensions started 110 years ago, for those over 70 years old, at 5/- (25p) a week, if you earned £21 a year or less. If you earned £31 a year or more, you received nothing. Less than one in four that reached adulthood and working life, then reached 70.

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Another reason why the pension age was raised is that most youngsters don’t begin work at 16 to pay into the pot..

gabriel gregory says:
14 November 2019

Protection from unending pages of small print. There should be a 2 page minimum allowance

… And a minimum allowable size for the typeface used 😉

As consumers, regardless of how much we want change that addresses climate warming, we cannot direct/dictate significant change in the primary drivers, such as energy generation, trade policy, transport, enforcement systems and protection from harms. We can only choose where to spend. The top concern, therefore, must be support for addressing the criticality of climate change. The other missing aspect from the list suggested is promotion of a (more) level playing field for retailers in terms of taxation and planning policy, which will modernise the ‘high street” and moderate the dominance of the e-retailers like Amazon.

The well-being of animal’s;making sure there is cctv in all slaughterhouses. There is none in Wales (Scotland is in discussion about them) and proper prosecution for those who hurt, and torture them. Jail sentences for humans who kill/neglect animals; to make tethering of horses illegal

Insurance companies who are keen to take the premiums, but not so keen to pay out, quoting some obscure clause hidden amongst the 50 page policy document.

I really wanted to vote for all of them as they are all extremely important. I am not a “doom and gloom” individual but I do have concerns about many of the subjects you raise her. WHICH? plays a vital role, in my opinion, in keeping us informed in a very clear succinct fashion and I am grateful. We all need to keep informed and vigilant.

All companies generating revenue from doing business/generating revenue in the UK, regardless where they are based/working from globally pay the appropriate amount of Tax. The mechanisms that these global companies use to disguise and feed into tax haven accounts need to be clamped down hard. An arbritary tax amount should be calculated and applied to all of these companies that are found guilty.

Kevin says:
14 November 2019

Have a legal presumption that any executive of a company or public sector entity earning more than, say, 5 times average salary should be aware of how that company is making it’s revenue or providing it’s services. If they then claim ignorance at any legal procedings flowing from fraud, mis-selling, or bad practice, they should pay back a proportion of their salary depending on how much accountability they are dodging.

Making over 75 pay for TV Licence Many elderly persons are too proud to apply for pension credit so know TV no for them Their loneliness will be unbearable.

A Fair tax system that closes the loop holes that the corporate mega companies use to pay little or no tax in the uk. Ensure that those people who need help get it and those who exploit the welfare system don’t take advantage. More money for the nhs and police.

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It’s not only the mega companies that don’t pay their fair share of tax. There are many people who pay accountants to find every tax avoidance trick in the book.
The welfare state is too easy to cheat. There need to be more checks on people who are claiming. Only a fraction of those exploiting the system are caught and prosecuted.
With modern technology there’s far more that could be done to catch tax cheats and benefit thieves.

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I would like to see environmental protection for flora, fauna and landscape and commitment to retaining green space.

I would also like to see incentives for limiting families to two children, with Child Benefit only paid for the first child.

My wife was due to retire at 60 but the govt, decided she would have to wait till she was 65+ this meant she had 5 yrs without any income whatsoever so we would like to see the next government put this right! Even if we ourselves do not benefit.

Fair voting system for Parliamenary general elections is absolutelly necessary – abondoning ‘first past the post’ in favoour of the systems for electing the Scottish, Welsh and London Assemblies. It will stop this curse of ‘tactical voting’ particularly prevalent at this time.

I’ve just finished reading the full report and can find little to disagree with. All the aims are laudable and the recommendations are sensible. Whether they will be effective is something that Which? can monitor if they are adopted. Most of this report sketches out issues and highlights actions without going into detail. There is a summary of each problem and a recommendation, but it leaves the method of acting on it to the government or business concerned. The supporting statistics are well researched and impact on the need to take action.
Many contributors have mentioned the lack of climate discussion in the report and I agree that this should have been an important part of the document. It may not be a consumer issue that rights wrongs and protects from scams and sharp practice, but it increasingly affects what we do and what we can do in future.

This is a good start, but such a report is more for showing the consumer that Which? is addressing these issues, than to the legislator who needs a more detailed analysis of each of the areas covered here.

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Mary Doonan says:
14 November 2019

Scottish Independence

P. Scrutton says:
14 November 2019

Please help ensure that those ( mainly elderly ) not on line can get a fair deal with household bills and are not victimised because they cannot manage bills online.