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Coalition Review falls short of putting consumers first

Party leaders outline 'a new set of reforms'

The government today set out broad brush proposals for the rest of its term in office. Details on key measures have yet to be announced, but in the review co-authored by Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the next three years will see some major changes to your personal finances.

However, consumer champion Which? has criticised the report, stating that it does not go far enough to protect consumers from uncompetitive prices, shoddy service and bad practices. 

Government intentions outlined

In its mid-term Review, the government announced its intention to:

  • Set out detailed plans for public spending for the 2015/16 fiscal year, in line with the overall path of deficit reduction
  • Boost the rate of house building
  • Legislate to implement the main recommendations of the Vickers Commission on Banking
  • Continue to increase personal income tax allowance towards £10,000
  • Introduce a Consumer Bill of Rights
  • Begin the implementation of the Universal Credit  
  • Encourage the exploitation of shale gas
  • Establish the Friends and Family Test for all hospitals
  • Introduce a Universal Deferred Payments scheme for residential care in England 

Over the coming months, it is expected that a number of key policies will be announced. The first is a change to state pension payments, in a bid to combine the basic state pension and the second state pension into a single payment. This could potentially decrease the bureaucracy and complexity that comes with the state pension, but some people risk missing out on enhanced state pension payments.

Following the findings of the Dilnot review into funding long-term care, the government may soon announce plans to cap the cost of long-term care. Some are suggesting a cap of £75,000, higher than the £35,000 recommended by Dilnot. 

Elsewhere, more help will be given to parents to meet rising childcare costs, while the government’s review document will look to combat rising rail fares, stating that it ‘will ensure… regulated rail fares and Transport for London fares do not rise on average by more than 1% above the Retail Prices Index in 2013 and 2014.’

Which? comment on Coalition Review

Commenting on the Review, Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, said: ‘Consumers facing yet another tough year will be looking to the government for much more ambition and action.

‘With 10 million households already feeling the squeeze and consumer confidence low, reforms to those sectors that matter most, like banking, energy and telecoms, do not yet go far enough to protect people from uncompetitive prices, shoddy service and bad practices.’

Review ‘falls short’ of protecting consumers

‘When household budgets are tight and the cost of food is spiralling, people want to see urgent action taken to stop food companies using confusing pricing tactics that make it impossible to spot a genuine bargain. With a wider range of organisations now providing public services, more must be done to ensure people can genuinely choose what’s best for them and have somewhere to turn for help when things go wrong.

‘Confident, empowered consumers are good for the economy and good for driving improvements and innovation in business and public services. Consumers should be at the heart of the government’s reform agenda, and although the Consumer Bill of Rights is likely to be a step forward, today’s Review falls short of setting out a compelling vision to make this happen.’

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