Action needed on food pricing, letting agent fees and rail faresWhich? calls for action on squeezed family budgets

12 October 2012

Food shelf

Which? has this week called for action on the big issues affecting consumers across the UK during a BBC Radio 5 Live summit.

Misleading and unclear food pricing, rip-off fees from letting agents and unfair hikes in rail fares have all hit consumers in the pocket and need urgent action.

Cost-of-living Octoberfest summit

The special summit to discuss the cost of living and the North South divide was organised as part of BBC Radio 5 Live's Octoberfest, broadcast live from Sheffield.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd represented the voice of consumers alongside Asda, the National Landlords Association and the Conservative MP for the Elmet and Rothwell constituency in Yorkshire, Alec Shelbrooke.

Food prices and misleading supermarket promotions

The price of food is one of the biggest concerns for consumers. Richard Lloyd asked Asda to end misleading price promotions and make the price of food much clearer, urging other supermarkets to follow. He said: 'Nine out of 10 people are trying to get the best deal on food but one of the things that infuriates consumers is that you can't work it out unless you've got a calculator and a maths degree.'

Asda agreed this was an important issue and one it would be working hard to improve on.

Renters forced to pay high letting fees

With more people renting, we're concerned that the lack of transparency in tenant fees, alongside a housing shortage, means that there's no incentive for letting agents to reduce their prices. It's not right that consumers are having to pay fees to letting agents when it's not clear what they're getting in return. We put this point to the National Landlords Association, which agreed and said it wanted all its members to use registered letting agents.

Call for George Osborne to put money back in consumers' pockets

Food, housing and transport are issues that affect consumers across the UK. As well as calling business to action, Richard Lloyd challenged Alec Shelbrooke MP to make sure the government is listening, and said: 'We want the Chancellor to do everything he can to put money back in consumers' pockets and make the Autumn Statement a Budget for all the consumers that are struggling.'

Scott Solder, the editor of 5 Live Breakfast, summarised the outcome of the summit in raising the real issues consumers are facing nationwide: 'The aim of our cost-of-living summit on 5 Live Breakfast was to make some progress with key players on issues that affect people all over the UK rather than just have a debate. We were delighted to have secured fresh pledges from both Asda and the National Landlords Association as a result.'

Is there a North South divide for consumers?

While the big issues like rent, food and transport affect consumers across the UK, we've been analysing consumer sentiment in different parts of the country. To find out the key differences in consumer attitudes and experiences in the North and South, and to share your own experiences, read our new Which? Conversation post The North/South divide - are times tough for you?

More on this...

  • Supermarket unit prices - find out about our campaign for clear, consistent food unit pricing
  • Ways to save on food - 10 tips for cutting the cost of food and drink
  • Renting a home - our guide to finding a property to rent and your renting rights