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Consultation: The Citizens Advice Draft Consumer Work Plan 2019/20

14 December 2018

Can the delivery of essential services keep up with consumers’ expectations on price, quality and fairness? Will people support markets and competition to carry on delivering them? In the last year, these have been the central questions in consumer policy.

This work plan [ 320 kb] will mark our fifth year as the statutory consumer advocate for consumers of energy and postal services. That experience has given us a firm answer to these questions: yes, markets can deliver essential services, but they need to be robustly regulated. Public support can only be sustained if companies provide high quality services at a reasonable price and don’t exploit their customers.

This informs our biggest priorities for the coming year, whether it’s making sure that customers aren’t exploited by the loyalty penalty, getting consumers a good deal in the next round of energy network price controls, making it easier for consumers to opt in to paper statements or opt out of marketing mail, or making sure the smart meter rollout enhances consumers’ experience of the energy market.

The four themes for our work this year are:

Making markets work for consumers. Too often, markets are tilted against consumers. In this chapter, we set out how we’ll fight the consumer’s corner, balancing out pressure from incumbents.

Better value infrastructure. Essential markets rely on investment in new projects and maintaining existing infrastructure, which is typically funded by consumers or taxpayers. This chapter sets out how we’ll fight for consumers’ interests in technical negotiations about a part of the market that is often unseen.

A fair deal for vulnerable consumers. Vulnerable consumers are more likely to suffer harm in essential service markets. This chapter sets out how we’ll stand up for vulnerable consumers and make markets work better for them.

Protecting consumers in rapidly evolving markets. Technology and data is transforming existing markets and enabling new ones. This chapter sets out how we’ll advocate for consumers in new, complex and unregulated situations.

We’re looking forward to an open conversation about these priorities. Please tell us what you think - through a formal response or through the discussions we hope to have during the consultation period.

This work plan sets out the activities we will carry out to represent consumers in 2019/20. The plan is being published in draft as part of an 8 week consultation ending on 8 February. We will then take feedback into account and publish the final work plan in March.

Stakeholders wishing to respond to the draft work plan can do so by email to consumerworkplan@citizensadvice.org.uk or by post to:

Consumer Work Plan Consultation
c/o Rebekka Rumpel
Citizens Advice
200 Aldersgate Street
London
EC1A 4HD

We intend to publish stakeholder responses on our website alongside our finalised work plan. Respondents are requested to indicate whether any parts of their submission are commercially sensitive and should remain confidential.