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Brexit worries rise sharply among over-65s

Which? research reveals that more than 60% of over-65s are worried about the impact of Brexit on consumer rights, and access to goods and services

The latest figures from our consumer insight tracker show a sharp rise in the number of people aged 65 and over who are concerned about the consequences of Brexit, and with the possibility of a no-deal Brexit looming. The percentage of worried people in this age group has doubled since September 2016.

Every two months, Which? surveys around 2,000 people to get a view of how the nation’s consumers are feeling about a range of issues, including the price of food, travel and energy, as well as consumer rights.

We’ve been tracking how worried people feel about Brexit over the past two years, and our most recent figures from September 2018 show that the over-65s, in particular, are much more worried now than they were when we started recording the data two years ago.

To find out more about how consumers feel about Brexit and other issues, visit our consumer insight tracker.

Brexit worries increased across the UK

The concern around Brexit has also shown dramatic rises all over the UK, but the most marked differences are in Wales, where 68% of people are now worried (38% more than in September 2016), and the South East, where concern has risen to 67% (almost double the original 35%). This is five percentage points ahead of London.

Worry levels in the East of England and the West Midlands now both stand at 63%. Yorkshire and the Humber is the least-worried region, and the only area where less than half of people surveyed were concerned (49%).

Concern up across all ages

The most worried group are the 18-34-year-olds at 64%, but they’ve been the most worried group since we started the tracker and, in fact, their worry levels have only gone up by 11 percentage points since September 2016.

Worry levels among those aged 35-64 years old have gone up 24 percentage points to 60%, while it’s the over-65s who have shown the biggest increase in their concern, going from 27% to 61%.

Which? Consumer Charter for Brexit

Our Charter sets out four key tests that a successful Brexit will be judged upon. These are whether it:

  • maintains or enhances current levels of product quality and safety standards
  • limits the potential for price rises and increases in the cost of living
  • supports consumers with a system that ensures their rights and access to redress are protected
  • maintains or enhances consumer choice of a high-quality range of products and services.

The government’s own assessments of the potential impact suggest that a no-deal Brexit would fail to deliver on these tests.

Caroline Normand, Which? director of policy, says: ‘The continuing lack of certainty about how the UK will leave the EU is clearly concerning people as they consider what it could mean for families and businesses across Britain.

‘Consumers want a Brexit that protects and enhances their rights, and gives them access to a wider range of high-quality, affordable goods and services.

‘We believe that the best way to ease people’s worries is for the government to agree a deal with the EU that will meet these expectations and avoid the potential disaster scenario of a no-deal, which could result in a bonfire of existing consumer rights.’

How will Brexit affect my consumer rights?

Most of our consumer rights are enshrined in UK law, despite being based on EU directives. The European Withdrawal Bill (initially known as the Great Repeal Bill) officially became law in June 2018, and means that laws and regulations made over the past 40 years, while the UK was part of the EU, will continue to apply.

So unless the UK government decides to change the law, many of your rights will stay the same even after we’ve left the EU.

Since publishing our latest consumer insight data, a spokesperson for the government told us: ‘The UK’s product safety and consumer protection rules are some of the strongest and most comprehensive in the world and this will continue after we leave the EU.

‘We remain confident of reaching a deal. We will continue to work constructively and intensively together with the EU to make this happen.’

We will work with the government and other consumer bodies to ensure that your consumer voice and rights are heard and protected throughout the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

To find out more about how your consumer rights could be affected, visit How will Brexit affect my Consumer Rights?

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