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In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Labour leader Ed Miliband has talked of a “rip-off consumer culture” that exists in Britain, and urged the Prime Minister to put a stop to ‘predatory’ practices that leave customers with a raw deal.

Miliband reserved particular criticism for companies levying disproportionate surcharges for things like holidays, banking and parking. He also suggested breaking up the big 6 energy firms and making pricing more transparent.

He has proposed that a new consumer watchdog should be setup, with responsibility for limiting fees levied on pensions, air travel and other services.

Miliband said: “In every area, you have to call time on the surcharge culture.

“Making a fair profit is important but it can’t be done in an underhand and predatory way.

“This is about power in relation to private services and how government can be on the consumer’s side. Lots of businesses recognise this. It’s part of how you build a competitive economy in the world.”
He continued: “It’s about the rules that government sets. This is a specific argument about a number of private services to the public…we’re not proposing to go back on taking the railways into private ownership but maybe in transition not enough was done to protect the public.”

Miliband said that we should follow the example of robust consumer legislation that exists in the US, and said that his proposals would actually encourage businesses to be more competitive. He added that, in the current economic climate, it is vital that all possible steps are taken to “relieve the burden” for consumers.

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