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Consultation: Citizens Advice consumer work plan 2018/19

19 December 2017

Are consumer markets working as well as they used to? And what does this mean for the relationship between the market and the state?

In the last year, these questions loomed into the centre of political debate. There’s growing evidence that new technologies are changing the way markets work, creating new risks - and opportunities - for consumers. Meanwhile, there are still longstanding problems to solve, from scams to disengagement.

The Citizens Advice draft consumer work plan [ 0.52 mb] describes how Citizens Advice will discharge our role as the statutory advocate for consumers of energy and postal services in 2018/19. The plan has been developed with this context in mind, including work to tackle specific forms of detriment and broader work to make sure consumers are heard in the big debates of the day - not least the negotiation of Brexit.

Next year, our goal is simple: to continue generating returns for consumers far in excess of the amount our work costs. Our work on excessive profits alone has put £210 million - and counting - back into consumers’ pockets, 50 times the total annual cost of our energy work. To do this, we will keep up our approach: cross-cutting insights to learn lessons across sectors, and efforts to speak up for vulnerable people, scrutinise deals, and challenge incumbents.

To reflect the increasingly cross-cutting nature of consumer problems, and the value of learning lessons across markets, the plan is arranged under four themes:

  • Throwing light on the way billions of pounds are spent on infrastructure and major projects, making sure consumers get value for money
  • Protecting consumers in turbulent times by strengthening mechanisms of consumer power: redress, choice, and consumer voice
  • Tackling practices that exploit consumer behaviour, such as misleading pricing or bills that sky-rocket when a fixed-contract ends
  • Fighting for protections and market access for vulnerable people, from economically excluded groups to people at risk of scams

Our work plan makes clear where a project is relevant to - and therefore funded by - the energy or postal sectors. For stakeholders in these sectors, we have also provided separate annexes to show how this translates into their sector:

Annex A: Post [ 140 kb] 
Annex B: Energy [ 140 kb]
Annex C: Cross sector [ 100 kb]

Most importantly, we would love to know what you think. As an organisation that works on behalf of consumers, and that exerts an impact largely through others - regulators, policymakers, and companies - your feedback is essential.

This work plan describes the activities we will carry out to represent consumers in 2018/19. The plan is being published in draft as part of an 8 week consultation ending on 13th February. We will then take feedback into account and publish a 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 Tom Brooks
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.