The government today launched a new scheme ‘Better Choices: Better Deals’ to give consumers more power to hold the public and private sector to account.
New measures should allow consumers more power to challenge organisations, claim their own data, and make companies and the government work for them.
Consumer Affairs Minister Ed Davey MP says:
‘More active consumers mean that our best and most innovative businesses benefit most, helping to improve overall economic performance.’
Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, says:
‘We’re glad that the Government recognises the importance of empowering consumers.’
Better Choices: Better Deals
Key elements of the scheme include:
- Collective purchasing. Newly-appointed community organisers will work to encourage local areas to form collective purchasing deals.
- Transparent information. Companies will be encouraged to provide transparent information to consumers. A quality watermark on price comparison websites, annual credit card statements giving information about interest rates, and clearer information on energy bills should help to achieve this.
- Access to complaints data. In the strategy, the government pledges to make more data available about business performance, including complaints data, so customers can make informed choices about the services they are using.
Better control of your data
The report also announces the formation of ‘mydata’ – a collaboration between government and private organisations in the financial services, utilities and telecoms industries.
Mydata will give consumers access to information that companies hold about them to help them make better choices. For instance, access to their mobile phone usage data can help them choose a better deal on their phone contract.
It is possible to access some of this data already, although it can be tricky to do so, with different companies holding different information about each individual.
Ed Davey MP says that the mydata scheme ‘represents a real opportunity for companies to say: ‘look, if we get involved in this early we can really empower our customers.’ The idea is that those who do not get involved become the companies consumers do not want to deal with.’
Consumer empowerment has ‘exciting potential’
Peter Vicary-Smith, says:
‘Mydata has exciting potential for consumers and could help people find the products that best suit their needs, from current accounts and credit cards to utilities and mobile phone contracts.
‘We strongly agree with plans to make more regulators and industries publish details of complaints as these will help consumers to make more informed choices about the firms they deal with.’
How Which? works for you
Alongside the government plans to empower consumers, Which? is always working to give UK consumers the best possible deal. We campaign for better consumer protection, transparency and choice across a range of issues.
Find out more about our personal finance, energy, technology and health campaigns, or stay up-to-date with our latest activity by following us on Twitter or facebook.