MP backs drive to give consumers more rights

MP Yvonne Fovargue
MP Yvonne Fovargue
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A local MP has given her full backing to her former employer’s campaign to help shoppers struggling with faulty goods and poor service.

Makerfield parliamentary representative Yvonne Fovargue is supporting Citizens Advice’s call to strengthen the complaints process for the millions of people affected by business’ shortcomings.

Figures released by Citizens Advice, where Ms Fovargue worked before she entered Parliament, suggest as many as 14 million people suffered knock-on effects on their health, financial position on life due to consumer issues in 2017.

Around 3.2m people had to take time off work to resolve the problem, while 59 per cent said they had ended up paying more and 37 per cent said they had been left feeling worried and anxious.

Citizens Advice is now calling on the Government to use its Consumer Green Paper to redress the balance and make the playing field fairer for ordinary people.

Ms Fovargue, who has championed consumer issues in Parliament and is involved with an all-party group on the topic, has unsurprising ly welcomed the news.

She said: “As Citizens Advice has shown, seeking compensation or for a complaint can be a costly business for the consumer, in both time and money.

“The Government’s long-awaited Consumer Green Paper is a golden opportunity to reform the process for seeking redress.

“Let’s ensure that in the future consumers’ wrongs can be righted without going to court and without the unnecessary angst.”

Citizens Advice wants to end the current arrangements where financial disputes involving products in non-essential markets, such as cars or home renovations, can only be sorted out in the small claims courts.

The charity wants alternative resolution panels, chaired by an independent mediator, to be available across all markets. It also wants to see much better complaints procedures brought in.

Citizens Advice has previously found consumer issues cost the country about £23bn each year.

The most common problems are those involving mobile and broadband services, which cost an average of £80 to solve.

Some 16 per cent of those who faced problems said they were either unable to meet existing financial commitments, took on additional debt, harmed their credit rating or missed housing payments.

The Government said people should have access to information and compensation when things go wrong and also be able to get the best deal.