Consumer group Which? urges next UK government to rollout Smart Data

Ellie Duncan
03 Apr 2024

UK consumer group Which? has called on the next government to support the ongoing rollout of Smart Data schemes, in its election manifesto ‘A Consumer Agenda for Government’.

The manifesto outlines the key reforms that Which? believes are needed under the next government to improve consumer outcomes and boost economic growth.

The consumer group pointed to the UK’s only operational Smart Data scheme, Open Banking, as enabling consumers to share their banking data with trusted third parties and help them make “better-informed financial decisions”.

It said that there is an opportunity for the next government that comes to power to create “new, interoperable Smart Data schemes”, which might allow consumers to more easily compare insurance policies, broadband prices, and energy tariffs, as well as speed up the homebuying process.

“The benefits of these schemes can only be realised if data-holding businesses are encouraged, or if necessary compelled, to participate and if consumer protections are embedded in schemes to engender consumer trust and promote take-up,” Which? stated in its manifesto.

Which? has recommended that the Smart Data Council’s cross-industry, consumer and small business representation be maintained to drive the rollout of schemes that are “inclusive for all industries and audiences”.

“Specifically, through this council, they should commit to implementing best practice user experiences so consumers are confident when they give consent for their data to be accessed, whilst building trust and awareness in this emerging technology,” added Which?.

In a post on LinkedIn, Open Banking Limited wrote: “We will continue to work collaboratively with Which? and other Smart Data Council members to ensure future schemes are inclusive for all industries and audiences and continue to deliver for the public good.”

In the Spring Budget 2024, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt committed to expanding Smart Data schemes to the energy and transport sectors.

The next general election in the UK has to be called by 17 December 2024, given that this date marks five years since parliament first met after the last general election, according to the Institute for Government.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has previously indicated that he will call an election in the second half of 2024.

Financial crime

In its election manifesto, Which? also identified tackling online consumer crime, such as fraud, as a key reform for the next government.

Research by Which? found that the annual cost to wellbeing from being scammed online is £7.2 billion.

It has called for whichever party is voted in to deliver the Future of Payments Review recommendations, and to establish better consumer protections and dispute resolution across the “entire payments landscape”.

Among its other recommendations in relation to fighting fraud are the appointment of a dedicated Fraud Minister and a government-led taskforce that encourages public and private sector organisations to share their intelligence on fraud.

Earlier this year, the Labour Party pledged to deliver the next phase of Open Banking and to define a roadmap for Open Finance, as part of its plan for the UK’s financial services sector if it wins the next general election.