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B&Q to launch first 'collective' purchasing scheme

Neighbours will be able to club together to get better deals on loft insulation and energy-saving light bulbs in a new government initiative.

Consumer Minister Ed Davey said so-called collective purchasing could also eventually help households save money on utility bills and insurance.

The measure is one of a number aimed at giving consumers more power.

Mr Davey said he also wanted to give people better access to the data held about them by businesses.

And he suggested the creation of a "kitemark" for consumer feedback and price-comparison websites to help customers know which ones they can trust.

Switching tariffs
As part of the government's Better Choices, Better Deals initiative, Mr Davey said he wanted to harness "the power of the crowd" to help individuals save money.

The first collective-purchasing scheme will be piloted later this year by DIY company B&Q and will focus on helping people buy energy-saving products.

If successful, the idea will be expanded, with the government aiming to recruit 5,000 community organisers to help arrange collective-purchasing deals in their areas.

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At the moment we have a situation where businesses know more about us than we know about ourselves”

Ed Davey
Consumer Minister
These could involve signing up, as a group, with an intermediary business or organisation which would then switch the households en masse between energy tariffs to make sure they are always on the best one.

Mr Davey also announced on Wednesday that more than 20 big companies, including banks, energy suppliers and retailers, had so far signed up to the "mydata" scheme, which is designed to give customers better access to information on their spending habits.

They should then be able to analyse that information themselves - or recruit a third-party company to do it for them - and hopefully find ways to save.

"At the moment we have a situation where businesses know more about us than we know about ourselves. That's barmy," Mr Davey said.

He gave the example of mobile-phone companies, saying that according to a recent survey by comparison firm Billmonitor, the average mobile-phone user is overpaying by about £200 a year.

He said that with mydata, customers would be able to analyse their phone usage more easily and get independent advice on the best deal for them.

Source : BBC News

13 April 2011
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