By Max Clarke

Consumers are to be given key information helping them make informed decisions about the businesses they use, in order to stimulate competitiveness and help power growth, business innovation and skills under secretary Edward Davey said today:

“This is an important new initiative that will radically change how consumers relate to business. By giving you more power in your relationship with businesses you will be better placed to get the deal you want, and that deal may put a bit of money back in your pocket.

The new approach is published in Better Choices, Better Deals: Consumers Powering Growth and marks a shift away from legislating to make change happen. Instead it announces new ways to help consumers help themselves and challenges business to innovate, which in turn will drive growth in the economy.

The Plan for Growth, published last month, sets out a mixture of practical actions, investment and longer term work to remove barriers, stimulate growth and secure the UK’s position at the forefront of innovation.

An example of how better informed consumers could stimulate competition lies in the UK’s 12.7 million different mobile phone deals to choose from. A recent survey from Billmonitor shows that the average mobile phone user overspends by £200 a year. Using the personal data a phone company holds, such as whether a customer uses all their minutes or exceed their internet allowance, could help consumers to find a better deal, therefore giving them more money to spend on other businesses.

“It’s good news that Government is looking at how more powerful consumers can create more effective markets and public services,” commented Christine Farnish, Chair of Consumer Focus. “While there are companies who want to provide better value and service, the truth is that if you don’t have demanding consumers, then you won’t have responsive markets.“