The Chancellor delivered his first and last Autumn Statement yesterday after announcing that this annual political event will be scrapped. There were some interesting announcements for consumers yesterday – so, what do you think to this year’s Autumn Statement?
While we’ve created some dedicated guides to the Autumn Statement and how it will affect your personal finances, here are just a few of our key highlights from yesterday’s announcements.
Pension sales cold calling
With a real danger that people could lose their life savings, hopefully this will be a key tool in the fight against scammers. Alongside this announcement the Chancellor said that the Government will look at what more can be done to tackle pension scams.
Which? welcomed the new pension freedoms when they were announced back in 2014, but it’s important to note that scammers have used these reforms to find new ways to get hold of people’s hard earned savings. So it’s vital to remember that no legitimate pension or investment firm will cold call you about either releasing cash from your pension, accessing it before you are 55 or gaining extra tax savings.
In the coming months we’ll be looking at how we can ensure that this announcement really does tackle the issues that people face with pension cold calls, and whether it can reduce the number of scam victims.
Extra money for broadband
I hope that many of you will be pleased to hear that, just like energy and water, it would appear that broadband is finally becoming recognised as an essential service. With the UK lagging behind many other countries when it comes to speed and connectivity, it’s great to hear about the extra £1bn of funding to improve broadband infrastructure.
But it’s vital that this extra investment does actually lead to a big improvement by the industry, so that we’re all getting the faster and more reliable broadband.
Hundreds of you here on Which? Conversation have shared your stories explaining not only how frustrating it can be to have a shoddy broadband connection, but that the poor service has a clear and tangible impact on you.
Where markets aren’t working
The Chancellor also fired a warning shot across the bows of markets that are not working for consumers. He specifically mentioned the energy sector, stating:
‘We will look carefully over the coming months at the functioning of key markets, including the retail energy market, to make sure they are functioning fairly for all consumers.’
It’s clear that the energy industry is on notice following the recent competition inquiry. The Government has expectations on energy suppliers to demonstrate how they’re acting in the interest of consumers.
So this winter the energy industry must step up. This is why our Fair Energy Prices campaign is calling for action before the end of January for all energy companies to trial and test new ways to engage with their hard pressed customers.
If these energy companies can’t deliver a more consumer friendly energy market, then the Government is clearly ready to act.
Over to you
So do you think that this year’s Autumn Statement will make a difference to you? Were there any highlights for you from the Autumn Statement? Was there anything that you hoped the Chancellor would announce?