Saturday, 19 May 2012

Sandys: “Government must stand up for the consumer as household prices rise

Consumers must be protected from Rip Offs
In a Parliamentary debate on the Queen’s Speech, Laura Sandys, MP for South Thanet, called on the Government to stand up for the Consumer.  Laura, who used to work at the Consumers’ Association, said: “This was very much a consumer’s Queen’s Speech, dealing with issues around the largest household bills – water, energy and food.  It is crucial that we deal with some of the structures of these sector, but we also have to come clean with the consumer – the cost of food, energy and water are going up!
“Costs are increasing for water - a resource under particular pressure, in energy in the international wholesale markets, and food which has risen by over 5.4% this year. It is crucial that we put consumers at the heart of the proposed legislation to ensure that we support them to get the best value.  That means that we need to clamp down on companies that mis-sell, we must ensure that consumers have clear and transparent information about the tariffs, nutrition and services levels they are buying and that we provide at the heart of our education system the skills to be much more resilient – from financial education through to cooking and basic household jobs.    
“For too long, Governments have ignored the consumers focusing on the market but forgetting that the market is driven by customers . Big companies have reaped large profits whilst British customers have been mis-sold products, and with the current financial squeeze I am concerned that the consumer needs to be able to trust what they are buying. I have already identified some products’ packaging that is disguising how little food there is in the package; there must be transparency if processed products reduce their nutritional content due to commodity price increases, and new energy tariffs must deliver greater value to the consumer.
“We are approaching, what I believe to be, a consumer renaissance. The public are smart and are starting to fight back in the face of higher prices. We saw this in a schemethat I was championing – the Which? Big Switch campaign. By signing up over 250,000 people, through collective switching, Which? have secured energy bills which are £123 cheaper for customers.
“While no Government will be able to stop global price rises the coalition can ensure that the consumers are protected from sharp operators, get a strong voice in the market and secure a better deal.”

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