George Osborne vows measures to help families keep costs down


George Osborne is pledging to save families £470 a year by boosting competition and cutting red tape in areas such as banking, utilities and mobile phones.

A blueprint unveiled by the Chancellor sets out plans to generate savings for consumers in "essential" markets where 40% of average disposable income - nearly £10,000 a year - is spent.

The reforms include:

:: Pushing mobile phone companies to unlock handsets automatically at the end of contracts, rather than forcing people to spend up to £20 to have it done. A consultation on the issue is expected to be lauched next year.

:: Businesses and non-domestic customers will be able to switch water suppliers from 2017, and by next summer regulator Ofwat will assess the costs and benefits of extending the right to households.

:: Improving transparency in broadband pricing, with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigating whether "teaser" offers are misleading consumers.

:: Cutting costs of school uniform by putting current "best practice" guidance on a statutory footing.

:: Ending cash compensation for minor whiplash injuries, potentially saving drivers up to £50 from insurance premiums.

:: Making dentistry charges and treatment plans clearer and easier to understand.

Mr Osborne said: "This broad package of reforms will make markets work better for families."

"Driving competition will improve choice for people and ensure they get a better deal."

"And cutting red tape will help businesses grow and thrive."

"It's the Government's responsibility to help foster the right conditions for competition and investment across the UK - that's why the concrete steps we're announcing make sure government, regulators and local authorities all play their part in promoting competition and removing market distortions."