The Government has released a consultation seeking views on improving the consumer landscape in the energy, water, communications and transport sectors. In addition, views are being sought on, where consumers have a choice of supplier, what can be done to streamline the process of switching, making it more attractive to do so.
Active and assertive consumers are key to creating competitive and dynamic markets. They incentivise businesses to be agile and responsive, to innovate and be more efficient and to improve their competitive offer. However, to fulfil this role effectively, consumers need to be well informed, unencumbered in pursuing the best deal and sufficiently protected when things go wrong. The overall aim is to create and maintain a fair and competitive business environment that leads to economic growth and to ensure that individuals are equipped with the knowledge and ability to understand their consumer rights and make good choices.
There is a clear need for consumer advice and representation, both to protect the most vulnerable consumers and to support those looking to secure the best possible deal. In the regulated sectors it is particularly important for consumers to have access to advice and information and for there to be strong advocacy on their behalf.
The consultation is divided into three sections. The first section covers the consumer landscape in the energy, water, communications and transport sectors and seeks views and evidence on whether:
- there are any problems with the current provision of advice, advocacy and dispute resolution in the energy, communications, water and transport sectors, and, if so, how it could be improved;
- data on consumer complaints in these sectors can be made easier to access; and
- more can be done to recover consumers costs in these sectors when they have suffered detriment.
The second and third part of the Call for Evidence covers all sectors where consumers have choice in their providers and seeks views and evidence on whether more can be done to make switching quicker and easier and improve consumer choice.
The deadline for response is 23rd June 2016. We are formulating our response to the consultation and would welcome your feedback to incorporate into this. To have your say, please email the compliance team at firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively complete the contact form. To discuss this further please call Melanie Kendall-Reid on 01252 87 87 22.