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Consultation: Citizens Advice consumer work plan 2017/18

26 January 2017

Britain’s consumers spend £1.2 trillion on goods and services each year.

When consumer markets work well, this spending is an incredibly powerful force for good.  But the role consumer markets play in our lives also means that, when they fail, that failure carries a heavy price. This can include rip-off deals, shoddy services, and scams that waste people’s time and money - these often hit the vulnerable hardest of all.

work plan cover

Consumer advocacy is part of the answer to this problem.  Citizens Advice have a formal role representing consumers in energy and postal markets - the plan describes the specific steps we will take to stand up for consumers in these sectors. And - because consumer problems increasingly cut across different markets - it describes our valuable cross-sector work too.

Rooted in data from the ​14 ​million consumer problems we help solve every year, backed by research, we make sure the consumer voice is heard.  Our research last year revealed the full cost of consumer problems to be in the billions. And so this year’s plan has a laser focus on tackling detriment, cutting bills, and securing value for money in markets that aren’t working. We also discovered the true cost to people’s time: 1.2 billion hours spent, on the phone, in queues or arguments, trying to resolve problems. And so our second major focus is simplicity: we want to make it easier to be a consumer, so that markets fit people’s lives.

While scrutinising value for money in consumer markets, we also know it is important that we look closely at our own costs.  Building on savings in recent years, this plan proposes a further year on year real term cut of 4.7%.

The Citizens Advice consumer work plan 2017/18 [ 1.1 mb] sets out our agenda for improving markets for consumers. It is now open for consultation with our stakeholders and we would welcome feedback, which will be reflected in our final work plan in March.  This year, in the context of the Scotland Act, we have also been asked to represent Scottish consumers in GB-wide decisions that could affect them, while the separate organisation Citizens Advice Scotland plays this role within Scotland. We therefore welcome responses from stakeholders in Scotland too.

The consultation closes on 9th March and we will publish our final version on 20th March. Please respond to adminteam-policyandadvocacy@citizensadvice.org.uk or by post to:

James Plunkett
Director of Policy and Advocacy
Citizens Advice
200 Aldersgate Street
London EC1A 4HD