/ Money

Prime Minister May must restore trust to deliver a better deal for consumers

Theresa May

Our recent research has highlighted peoples’ fears over the economy. More than half of households expect it to get worse over the next 12 months. That’s more than double a year ago…

So it’s clear one of the many jobs our new Prime Minister has to do is to help build consumer confidence and restore trust in key markets, like energy, banking and rail, if we’re to have a strong economy.

Will Theresa May be pro-consumer?

Will Theresa May be a pro-consumer Prime Minister? Well as Home Secretary she rarely strayed outside her brief but indications are promising.

In her leadership speech at the start of this week she committed to tackling the governance of big businesses and announced plans to put consumers on company boards.

Her pledge to ‘use and reform competition law so that markets work better for people’ attracted less media attention but included a notable promise to address highly consolidated markets, such as utilities and retail banking.

This is a welcome commitment, given that our research also found that people’s trust in industries to act in their best interest has also declined by an average of 12% over the last year.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Which? champion, the Conservative Deputy Chair and MP for Harlow, Rob Halfon, claims that May will be an advocate of a more socially responsible capitalism.

Halfon has determinedly pursued energy companies and petrol price hikes and sees our new PM as someone who will take on so-called ‘crony capitalism’, something also echoed in her first speech as Prime Minister on the steps of Downing Street on Wednesday.

Taking on ‘crony capitalism’

Back in 2013, Theresa May pointed to this in her speech to a ConservativeHome conference. I remember at the time being struck by her commitment to tackle vested interests wherever they’re found. In the speech, she called for action to tackle the ‘appalling absence of care at Mid-Staffordshire hospital’ and ‘the treatment of elderly people at care homes like Winterbourne View’ – something that Which? has sought to address through our Make Complaints Count campaign.

And she also said that the Government should tackle businesses who ‘abuse their market position to keep prices high’ and ‘companies at the less scrupulous end of the credit industry (that) prey on the poorest and most vulnerable families’.

With our research revealing recently that unarranged overdrafts can cost you even more than a payday loan, perhaps our new Prime Minister will back action to tackle punitive bank charges.

Theresa May and Brexit

So there is good cause to hope that consumer issues will be a key part of a May premiership. They’ll certainly need to be central to her biggest challenge – negotiating Britain’s exit from the EU.

It’s vital that Brexit delivers for all consumers. This means ensuring that important rights and benefits, such as cheaper data roaming in other countries, compensation arrangements for flight delays and protecting food safety, are maintained during the negotiations – but also that as we gain new freedoms from EU laws, consumers reap the benefits.

It is also important that Theresa May recognises that a pro-consumer agenda will be a pro-growth agenda. We’ve seen big drops in consumer trust in essential markets, such as rail, energy and banking. That’s why reforms to these important sectors cannot be put on hold as we work out our future relationship with Brussels.

The new Prime Minister has a great opportunity to put consumers right at the heart of her agenda. This is a big ask. But if she can live up to her recent rhetoric, then we can have confidence that empowering and protecting consumers will be a pivotal part of our new Prime Minister’s plans.

Comments
Guest
Cllr Robert H Brown says:
9 August 2016

Having read lot’s of these comments I don’t believe I need to waste a lot of my time in posting my knowledge of the Brexit and what it entails when there are so many uneducated people who haven’t taken the time to research the truth on this subject which could of been found on the internet if they had taken the time to study the true facts of the situation.

Fortunately, there are some comments that have been made by some who have done there research first and clearly understand most about the relationship Ted Heath & the Common Market which Ted Heath signed us into with the majority who where deceived into believing that it was only a common market agreement and nothing more, but as we all now know it what about an EU superstate that would dictate from unelected Commissioners in Brussels.

I voted to Leave the EU.

Guest

It has become fashionable to moan about Brexit. That is what I expected from transient Londoners but it is childish and boring now so can the rest of us now think for ourselves, get back to the real world and not follow the Metroherd guessing game.

Guest

…and denigrating those who disagree is acceptable?

Guest

One thing about a good moan when a situation is arrived at, like Brexit, is you cannot be proved wrong. whatever happens, things could only have been better if we hadn’t chosen that route. because their is no way to test both options – remain, Brexit. But it might make people feel better.

My view is, the vote was cast, we’re committed to the decision, now we must coolly and calmly take stock of our position, think through how we approach the separation, see how we make the best of it and then get on with it in a businesslike way. We are not the only country to have reservations about the way the EU is run but we have chosen to do something about it.

Guest
F.A. says:
16 August 2016

Work in government. Six years of austerity behind us, that was no fun. Now the uncertainty increases even more with a Brexit decision. Where are the negotiators coming from? Every topic needs to be discussed and negotiated in fine detail? And what is the status on non-UK passport holders going to be? I don’t have ambitions for a UK that wants to go it alone. Ready to leave this mess behind, as not all problems seems solvable to me. This has great consequences for many public services and for those who work in them. As an EU citizen I don’t feel committed to the changes ahead. We did not have a vote in the referendum, but now we have one.

Guest

More being blamed on Brexit. Yellow fin tuna going up in price because it is paid for in Yen. Well, buy different fish perhaps paid for in £?

An electronics company putting expansion on hold because of a drop in sales to Europe. Down the road another company expanding because of drop in the £ increasing their sales.

We are committed. Make an orderly exit and sort out relationships elsewhere. If we have decent products and services to offer we will survive. We are an innovative country; help supporting innovation and capitalising on it by supporting production will be something our government can do without interference from the EU. Contracts can be put out for tender in the UK and not have to be offered throughout the EU; so we can support UK industry and labour. Maybe we can even provide sensible support to farmers and the fishing industry that does not pay them for not producing and for chucking fish away. Who knows?

Guest

Yes Malcolm although I voted remain I dont believe in “mucking about ” we are out and we should try to make the best of it . You have a point about the fishermen , maybe now we can take back control of our waters in the North Sea while we kept rigidly to EU law Spain continually overfished (small mesh nets etc ) , a few new patrol boats with missiles wouldnt go amiss.

Guest
rick keane says:
26 September 2016

40 years of enmeshing the UK with the European project in so many ways. This will be undone in 2 years or less? By the team of Davis, Fox and Johnson who could almost be guaranteed to agree on virtually no approach? What odds are William Hill offering on a white Christmas double with a jewish Pope? I’ll take that bet as being likelier.