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Ministers have published a Green Paper outlining how they plan to strengthen rights and protections for consumers.

According to the government, a strong set of consumer rights "contributes powerfully to people’s trust in business". 

However, it stated that if something goes wrong, people do not always feel confident about "pursuing complaints to a swift conclusion".

Many of the measures being proposed by the government could directly affect broadband customers in particular.

For instance, the Green Paper proposes developing performance scorecards for suppliers and digital comparison tools in regulated markets, so providers can be held accountable for the outcomes they deliver.

In addition, the government wants to prevent suppliers from misusing the data they hold on customers, such as by placing loyal customers on the highest tariffs so they can subsidise other subscribers.

A consultation on the proposals has been opened and stakeholders and interested parties have 12 weeks in which to respond.

Business Secretary Greg Clark noted that Britain has "long been a world leader in ensuring that markets work in the interests of consumers, taking innovative approaches to regulation that have been taken up by other countries across the world".

As a result, he is "determined" that this innovative and pro-consumer approach is renewed as new technologies open up new challenges and opportunities.

Mr Clark added that these latest proposals are an "important step" in ensuring the British business environment is "shaped by competition that benefits consumers in terms of keen prices, quality products and services and cutting-edge innovation".

The move has been welcomed by Citizens Advice, which said this is a "statement of intent" from the government.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of the body, commented: "We want consumers to be treated fairly.

"The energy price cap shows government is willing to intervene to make sure consumers aren’t punished for loyalty, and it is encouraging to see further action being considered in other markets."

Ms Guy pointed out that companies often take advantage of people's loyalty, with many being charged almost £1,000 more every year for sticking with their service providers.

"Vulnerable people are often the hardest hit by unfair practices and government should hold companies to account to make sure they are protected," she observed.

Ms Guy went on to note that telecoms customers are getting a "particularly raw deal" and have less protection than in other essential markets.

She therefore urged ministers to "strengthen consumers' voices by establishing an independent consumer advocate".

The idea was first proposed by Citizens Advice earlier this year after a study it conducted revealed six in ten broadband customers had experienced either a slow service or a total loss of connectivity in the last 12 months.

Figures also showed that broadband customers spent an average of 2.4 hours attempting to resolve issues with their broadband connection.

However, one in four respondents said they were not confident their broadband provider would be able to resolve service issues quickly.

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