Government and regulators agree consumer support action plan

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has chaired a roundtable with CEOs from CMA, FCA, Ofcom, Ofgem and Ofwat as part of the Government’s plan to halve inflation this year and return to the 2% target.

Treasury expects that the regulators ensure the markets are working properly, for example by ensuring consumers benefit from the reductions now being seen in wholesale energy prices and other input costs, and that higher interest rates are passed on to savers.

FCA has agreed to:

  • Deliver better deals for savers by driving competition, including reporting by the end of July on how the savings market is supporting savers to benefit from higher interest rates. The Government noted that the new Consumer Duty gives FCA stronger powers to take action if necessary.
  • Require the largest banks and building societies to explain the pace and extent of their pass through of interest rates, and how they are proactively supporting savers to switch to high interest rate products.

CMA has agreed to:

  • Deliver a better deal for motorists by publishing its review of the road fuel market on 3 July.
  • Help shoppers pay fair prices by bringing forward its update of competition and unit pricing in the grocery sector to earlier in July and laying out next steps. This will include further scrutinising the food supply chain as well as measures to make it easier for consumers to make the best choices.
  • Following affordability pressures in the housing market, provide an update on its housebuilding market study and work in the rented accommodation sector in August.
  • Actively scrutinise markets where cost-of-living pressures are growing and launch work in at least two new areas in need of further investigation. It will also update on key developments in its ongoing crackdown on misleading consumer practices.

The action plan also featured measures agreed by Ofcom, Ofgem and Ofwat.

All of the regulators agreed to provide regular updates to Treasury on progress, and that a follow up meeting would be held later in the summer. FCA, Ofcom, Ofwat and Ofgem will also publish a joint statement setting out shared expectations on treatment of customers in financial difficulties.

Laura Wiles