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Consumer Insight nation reports 2022: our findings

This year’s reports on consumers in each of the devolved nations of the UK are now available. Here’s a taster of what we found.

Much of our work at Which? applies to consumers across the whole of the UK, but sometimes issues will affect people in particular areas differently to others. That’s why each year we publish individual reports covering some of the key consumer issues of the day for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

This year we take a look at the cost of living crisis, scams, broadband access and sustainability from the perspective of consumers in the devolved nations.

Consumer Insight reports by nation

Differences across the UK

Unsurprisingly, the cost of living crisis is a top-of-mind concern for consumers in all the nations of the UK. However, there are differences in how this is experienced. For example, people in Northern Ireland were more likely to have experienced energy price rises by the end of 2021, likely due to higher reliance on heating oil in Northern Ireland, and the absence of the energy price cap that applies to the other nations. 

Whilst worries about the cost of living, concern about scams and a desire to be sustainable are common across all four nations of the UK, we found  big differences in infrastructure and access to services, where the devolved nations often lag behind England. 

Wales, for example, has much slower broadband performance than the other nations, though their need for broadband equals that of the other nations. Scotland also lags behind England and Northern Ireland in this area.

Northern Ireland, meanwhile, lags behind on electric vehicle charging infrastructure. There are just 18 charge points per 100,000 people in Northern Ireland compared to 33 in Wales and 52 in Scotland. Access to charge points is the most common barrier to purchasing an electric vehicle according to our research.

With the UK government set to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030, it’s extremely important that people across the UK have access to the facilities necessary for the switch to EVs.

What next for our findings?

We’re discussing our findings with policymakers and businesses in each of the nations to figure out where consumers might need support specific to the devolved nation they live in, and how Which? can fight for this.

We’ll also continue to explore the experiences of consumers in different parts of the UK through the year, with more work on how the cost of living crisis is affecting consumers in the devolved nations coming soon.

Which issues are most important to you and the part of the UK you’re from? Let us know in the comments.

Eric Armstrong says:
31 March 2022

A large proportion of which reports are based on England and have no,relevance to Scotland or Northern Ireland and to a lesser extent Wales.
Either up the entire UK Coverage or give a reduction in subscription to those who do not live in England

Ian McKelvie says:
31 March 2022

I note that you have made no reference to the difficulties consumers in Northern Ireland have in accessing the GB market following the N.I. Protocol which has created an internal border within the U.K.

Elaine Stirton says:
31 March 2022

I would like you to investigate and report on the companies offering ‘Free Delivery’ which exclude large parts of Scotland.

Jeremy says:
31 March 2022

I would highlight that in Glasgow there are still areas with relatively slow broadband speeds. We used to live in the southside of the city and would average around 10-12Mbps.
Further access to 4G networks is very poor in Scotland not only in rural areas where you would expect difficulties but also in the major cities.
Overall based on my experience I would rate Scotlands connectivity as very poor compared with UK and Europe.

Mark Gunston says:
31 March 2022

Many consumers in Scotland are hit very hard with the rise in energy prices because so many live in Victorian buildings or cheaply built tenements. And those living in north facing buildings in remote areas with no gas supply are even harder hit. E.g. It cost me £250 a month in winter to heat one room enough so that I can be comfortable sitting still wearing a jumper and gillet. This will rise to £375 tomorrow and maybe rise again next winter. Basically all my state pension will go on heating and food.
The government need to hit those hardest hit, particularly pensioners living alone in old buildings without a gas supply.

John says:
31 March 2022

Interesting to note that your surveys show no mention by the public of the Brexit NI Protocol which mirrors the view taken by the vast majority of business representatives that it is by far the best outcome for NI following an unwanted exit from the EU.

Phil Ross says:
31 March 2022

Scotland is self sufficient in electricity and exports the power south. We also have to pay to put power onto the grid whiile certain areas in England gets payed to put power onto the grid. Why does Scotland have to pay more. Likewise fuel, the oil comes out of Scottish waters but we pay more for fuel.

Jean says:
31 March 2022

I agree broadband should be better throughout the uk. All consumers whether they live in Scotland, England, Wales or Ireland
we will all feel the effects of price rises in energy, food and other services as well as broadband issues depending on where you live.
No-one should be in a position whether they choose to heat or eat.
The devolved governments should be working more closely with the uk government as they have more powers in making financial decisions and more power to help to improve all consumers lives without the divisiveness of devolved governments trying to go it alone. They need to be able to work collectively for all the people in the uk where the uk government is accountable.

Elliott Boyle says:
31 March 2022

Looking for report on scotland specific linked wireless fire alarm systems

Neil Holland says:
31 March 2022

When you sent the email talking about a NI based report and the concerns of NI consumers you added a link to energy saving including switching suppliers but NI consumers cant access any of these suppliers and NI based electricity suppliers do not offer multiple tariffs such as “time of use” to encourage Off Peak use for things such as EV charging. NI consumers dont even have access to Smart Meters like the rest of the UK. There is a clear lack of competition in the market with the local Regulator not incentivising innovation in the market only price cuts.

gerard mitchell says:
1 April 2022

Gerard Mitchell
As others,many of the excellent reports are not applicable to N. Ireland.
We pay more for everything (imported) on lesser wages.
Many offers from businesses end with not applicable in N. Ireland. Is this not discriminatory, ie applicable in Wales eg but not to us?

[Moderator: we’ve edited this comment to remove personally identifiable information, as this is not allowed in the Community guidelines. Please don’t post people’s names, addresses, or other personally identifiable information – even if you suspect it is made up. This is to protect everyone’s privacy.]

Em says:
1 April 2022

It is not discriminatory, because it applies equally to all those living in Northern Ireland, and not an identifiable subset of the population with a protected characteristic.

Even if it was, discrimination can be lawful if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. Recovering the additional costs of sending goods to NI by charging more for shipping, or not sending them at all, would seem to be a legitimate aim and a proportionate means of doing so.

Otherwise, I could be claiming discrimination against the Welsh because I live more than 300 miles from the nearest working slate quarry at Penrhyn. How unfair is that?

For many decades we have all been warned about the huge cost increases we all faced if we continued to pursue unsustainable lifestyles. The majority of people and politicians dismissed these warnings on the basis that things had to be a cheap as possible. For example, cheap houses meant energy inefficient houses. These chickens are now coming home to roost. The warnings that there was no cheap way out of our unsustainable lifestyles -were ignored so now we face the inescapable social and economic pain. Our children and grandchildren will have to face much higher social and economic costs than we face now.

gerard mitchell says:
6 April 2022

Agree with Eric, limited input on N. Ireland matters. We pay more for most items, as they are imported. Also dis advantaged;check many sites not available in N Ireland. Is this not discriminatory being treated differently.

Robin Bennett says:
11 April 2022

There were no comparators for many of the statistics, so it was difficult to make much of many of the figures. Comparisons with England and/or with the past are required for us to assess how we are doing.