On Monday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond MP, will set out the UK Government’s proposals for tax and spending for the next financial year. Here’s what we want to see, based on our campaigning through 2018.
We’re covering the latest announcements from the Budget here.
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Many of the Chancellor’s proposals in Monday’s budget will apply across the whole of the UK, however the governments in Wales and Scotland will set out their own proposals for public spending and in the case of the Scottish Government personal and property tax levels in the coming weeks.
Over the last year, consumer expenditure was more than £105 billion per month, and is continuing to grow. Consumer confidence, critical to a strong economy, has stabilised after a year of falling and, on average consumers feel slightly more positive than negative about the outlook for their finances in the year ahead. However, it’s important that the Government continues to take practical steps to support consumers.
Here we set out three things the Chancellor could announce to help consumers.
Access to cash
We’re expecting the Chancellor to announce something on the future of digital payments and cash. Although the use of cash has declined, it’s still relied upon by millions of people and businesses across the UK, and we’re seeing people struggling to access cash through the double blow of bank branch and cashpoint closures, which are happening at an alarming rate.
That’s why we are calling on the Government to intervene by placing a duty on the Payment Systems Regulator to protect access to cash and ensure communities aren’t suddenly stripped of this crucial payment method.
Consumers must be confident that their consumer rights, including requirements for fair trading practices, safety and quality standards, are enforced, and they are able to obtain redress when something goes wrong.
The UK has one of the strongest consumer rights frameworks in the world, but the public and private enforcement systems that support it are no longer fit for purpose. The system is under strain at a time when the UK’s exit from the EU makes it even more essential that there is a robust system in place that can deal with the complex threats facing consumers.
This is certainly an issue on the Government’s radar, and while it might be a bit premature, an announcement to boost investment in modernising the consumer enforcement regime, ensuring it is centrally resourced to underpin the UK’s consumer rights framework, would be very welcome.
From revealing the pension freedom reforms to the first commitment to the much-needed pensions dashboard, there’s hardly a Budget that passes without speculation about pension changes to help people better engage with their retirement savings.
We’ve been calling on the Government to set out the time-frame for implementing the dashboard since the start of the year. We want to ensure that all pension schemes provide clear, comprehensive data through the dashboard so consumers can finally see all their savings in one place.
The Government must also ensure that the state pension is shown on the dashboard, and set a clear framework to ensure that the industry-led dashboard actually works for consumers. We know the Government is set to publish its direction of travel soon, so we’ll be looking out for it next week.
We’ll be updating this Convo throughout Monday as the announcements are made. What do you want to see from the 2018 Budget?