Improving the consumer landscape and quicker switching: call for evidence

Closed 23 Jun 2016

Opened 25 May 2016



Government aims to create and maintain a fair and competitive business environment that leads to economic growth and to ensure that individuals are equipped with the knowledge and ability to understand their consumer rights and make good choices.

Active and assertive consumers are key to creating competitive and dynamic markets. They incentivise businesses to be agile and responsive, to innovate and be more efficient and to improve their competitive offer. However, to fulfil this role effectively, consumers need to be well informed, unencumbered in pursuing the best deal and sufficiently protected when things go wrong.

The government’s aim is to empower consumers to make wise decisions when purchasing goods and services. Consumers who are better informed with easy access to information are more likely to demand choice and by exercising it, stimulate competition and innovation. Consumers who demand high standards are more likely to drive a hard bargain ensuring businesses do not become complacent and take their customers for granted.

There remains a clear need for consumer advice and representation, both to protect the most vulnerable consumers, who may not be able to access or interpret information, and to support those looking to secure the best possible deal. In the regulated sectors it is particularly important for consumers to have access to advice and information and for there to be strong advocacy on their behalf.

The Call for Evidence is divided into 3 sections.

The first section covers the consumer landscape in the energy, communications, water and transport sectors and seeks views and evidence on:

  • Whether there are any problems with the current provision of advice, advocacy and dispute resolution in the energy, communications, water and transport sectors, and, if so, how it could be improved.
  • Whether data on consumer complaints in these sectors can be made easier to access.
  • Whether more can be done to get consumers their money back in these sectors when they have suffered detriment.


The second and third part of the call for evidence covers all sectors where consumers have choice in their providers and seeks views and evidence on whether more can be done to make switching quicker and easier and improve consumer choice.

Why your views matter

The call for evidence will be open for 4 weeks. Following the end of the call for evidence, we will assess responses and consider what changes to the consumer landscape and switching should be included in the Better Markets Bill (which was announced in the Queen's Speech) later this year. The tailored review of the Consumer Council for Water is due to take place in 2019. The government will need robust evidence to justify any changes in this sector before this date.

Consumer advice and advocacy in respect of general consumer law, the postal, electricity and gas sectors were devolved to Scotland on 23 May and water is already devolved to Scotland and Wales. Consumer protection is devolved to Northern Ireland. The government will seek the views of the devolved administrations and take devolution considerations into account when assessing the evidence. 


  • SMEs (small and medium businesses)
  • Large businesses (over 250 staff)
  • Multinational businesses
  • Business journalists
  • Trade bodies
  • Legal representative
  • Medium business (50 to 250 staff)
  • Micro business (up to 9 staff)
  • Small business (10 to 49 staff)
  • Consumer organisations
  • Consumer law specialists
  • Consumers
  • Consumers
  • Charities
  • Central government
  • Individual
  • Regulator


  • Consumer rights
  • Regulation and red tape