In July 2009 HM Government published a White Paper entitled A better deal for consumers - delivering real help now and change for the future (the White Paper). In the White Paper the Government set out its new, more active and strategic approach to financial and other consumer markets.

The proposals in the White Paper explained how the Government would extend this approach to the major challenges that the global financial crisis and economic downturn has created for consumers. The White Paper focussed on four key themes:  

  • Real help for vulnerable consumers.
  • A new approach to consumer credit.
  • Empowering consumers through better enforcement and information.
  • Modernising consumer law.  

Consumer Focus is the statutory organisation campaigning for a fair deal for consumers in England, Wales, Scotland, and, for postal services, Northern Ireland. Consumer Focus has now published a report which is entitled Pay now, pay later.  

The report published by Consumer Focus is intended to facilitate discussion about the best way forward as the Government undertakes its commitment in the White Paper to reassess the regulatory framework for consumer prepayments.  

Consumer Focus puts forward initial proposals as a package of reforms to:  

  • Promote consumers to the ranks of preferential creditors.
  • Introduce a reserve power for the Secretary of State to require businesses carrying on specified activities to establish means to protect prepayments.
  • Harmonise upwards payment card redress.
  • Reform of section 214 of the Insolvency Act 1986 to facilitate its greater use.
  • Enhance duties on directors to ensure that prepayments made by consumers should not be used for purposes unrelated to those for which it was originally paid.
  • Targeted interventions in the furniture, electrical goods and travel sectors.  

View Consumer Focus report - Pay now, pay later, 7 August 2009