Every piece of consumer protection that safeguards individuals under current EU law will be enshrined in new UK law post-Brexit, both major parties have promised.
The pledge from Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn comes as the leaders of six of the seven main political parties took part in MSE's 2017 Leaders' Debate ahead of the general election on Thursday 8 June.
The Scottish National Party, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and Green Party also responded to MoneySavers' questions on everything from pensions to tax and student finance to energy prices. UKIP leader Paul Nuttall had agreed to take part in the debate but did not meet the deadline.
'Current EU consumer protection will be preserved'
In a bid to reassure voters that robust consumer rights built up by European ruling won't be lost when the UK leaves the EU, the Conservative and Labour leaders pledged no existing protection would be lost or watered down.
Prime Minister Theresa May said: "Current EU law on consumer protection will be preserved in domestic law, giving consumers clarity in their domestic rights and obligations."
And Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote that his party was "determined to enshrine all EU-derived consumer rights laws into UK legislation" and a new bill would ensure "no detrimental change" to consumer rights.
It's not clear exactly what EU consumer protection would be covered by the pledges, but EU rules currently have a big impact on everything from flight delay compensation and food labelling to mobile phone roaming and data protection.
Little new detail was unveiled by the parties as they focused on reaffirming key pledges already outlined in their manifestos.
But on housing and mortgages, Corbyn did promise his party would – if elected – review the rules on mortgage affordability that have prevented some borrowers from moving to cheaper deals. (See more on how MSE has campaigned on this issue in Martin's Mortgage prisoners blog.)
He said: "We will... consider removing any unnecessary rules which have led to some borrowers being stuck on expensive deals, preventing them from switching to a cheaper option." Lib Dem leader Tim Farron also pledged to review the rules.
Key pledges from party leaders
Here's a snapshot of some of the answers offered by the party leaders to your questions on consumer issues.
Theresa May (Conservatives): Energy cap to protect against 'abusive price increases'
- On energy bills: "We will introduce a 'safeguard tariff cap' to protect energy customers from abusive price increases." This follows the PM's announcement earlier this month.
- On the housing market: "We will modernise the home-buying process to make it more efficient and less costly."
- On rip-off telecoms bills: "We will make billing for telecoms fairer and easier to understand, including making clear when a mobile customer has paid off the cost of a handset."
- On complex train fares: "We will review rail ticketing, removing complexity and perverse pricing, and introduce a passenger ombudsman to act in the interests of rail users suffering a poor deal."
Jeremy Corbyn (Labour): Tuition fees to be scrapped
- On student finance: "Labour will scrap university tuition fees and lift the debt burden from future graduates' shoulders."
- On pensions: "We will maintain the current 'triple-lock' pensions promise and keep the free bus passes and the winter fuel allowance to pensioners. WASPI women [women affected by changes to the state pension age] have been appallingly treated, and so we will extend pension credit to hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable women affected."
- On energy bills: "We will cap energy bills to stop them from rising any further and support the creation of a publicly owned, locally accountable energy company or co-operative in every region across the UK."
- On housing shortages: "First-time buyers will be guaranteed 'first dibs' on new homes in their area, with thousands of new discount homes linked to local average incomes."
Nicola Sturgeon (Scottish National Party): Devolved consumer protection for Scotland
- On energy bills: "People can be sure we will press the UK Government to enact an energy price cap on standard variable tariffs, and we'll call for an introduction of a new duty to be placed on energy companies to set out a clear timetable to reduce the number of people on prepayment meters."
- On consumer rights: "Remaining in the single market is the easiest way for us to maintain the vital and consumer protections that we currently enjoy as part of the EU. We also argue for all consumer protection powers to be devolved to Scotland – which would give us the chance to put the interests of consumers first – not those of big business."
Tim Farron (Liberal Democrats): A new 'Rent to Own' model
- On energy bills: "We will... make sure homes are better insulated, which will cut bills significantly. The Liberal Democrats will set new energy-efficiency targets, and make sure that at least four million homes are raised to 'Band C' by 2022."
- On social care: "We will raise the amount people can earn before losing carer's allowance from £110 to £150 a week, and reduce the number of hours' care per week required to qualify."
- On mortgage fairness: "No one should be arbitrarily denied a better mortgage deal and trapped into paying higher rates. We will review affordability criteria and ensure that they are fair for people with all levels of wealth."
- On housing: "We'll introduce a new 'Rent to Own' model, whereby your monthly rent payments steadily acquire you an increasing stake in the property, until you own it outright after 30 years."
Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru): Support for the WASPI campaign
- On the state pension: "Plaid Cymru supports the WASPI [Women Against State Pension Inequality] campaign. We would keep the 'triple-lock' guarantee on pensions and have committed to voting against any increases in the state pension age."
- On social care: "Plaid Cymru MPs will support an increase in the carer's allowance. The UK is a rich economy and could easily afford an extra £10 per week for carers."
Jonathan Bartley (Green Party co-leader): 'Wealth tax' on the top 1% of earners
- On affordable housing: "Green MPs in Parliament would back legislation to stop the sale of new-build developments under leasehold. The practice of property developers using leasehold to rip people off should be stopped with freehold and commonhold used in their place, as appropriate."
- On income tax: "We would increase the [income] tax rate paid at the top to 60% but not change other income tax bands or rates. We would also impose a wealth tax on the top 1%."
UKIP leader Paul Nuttall was invited to take part in the debate and had agreed to do so, but did not respond by the deadline – we still await his answers.