Government creates Smart Data Council to target citizens’ monthly bills

Numerous departments and industry groups to take part in initiative aiming to eliminate £1,000-a-year ‘loyalty penalty’

The government has created a Smart Data Council with a remit to help cut citizens’ monthy household bills by hundreds of pounds by better sharing of information.

Created by the Department for Business and Trade, the council will convene representatives a number of government departments, regulators, and industry groups in various sectors. It will also be supported by Citizens Advice.

The council, which will meet for the first time next week, will promote the use of smart data – which, according to the government “involves the secure sharing of customer data with authorised third parties to help improve services for consumers” – to try and enable more citizens and small businesses to save money by switching utilities providers.

With many companies offering the best deals as a means to entice new customers, the government claims that, by sticking with their incumbent providers of mobile connections, broadband, and mortgage, the average household pays a “loyalty penalty” of £1,114 each year.

The government initiative will take inspiration from the implementation of open banking, which uses common standards to allow UK banks and financial services firms to securely share information on transactions from an estimated seven million users that have opted in. The council aims to encourage similar measures to be introduced in sectors such as energy and communications.

Kevin Hollinrake, a junior minister at the Department for Business and Trade, said: “Smart data can be a real game changer for consumers across the UK, potentially saving people hundreds or even thousands of pounds a year. Our new Smart Data Council will build on the success of Open Banking and spearhead measures in sectors like SME finance, energy and telecoms, increasing competition and putting more money in the pockets of consumers and small firms.”

Organisations taking part in the council include: the Department for Business and Trade; HM Treasury; the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero; the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology; the Information Commissioner’s Office; Ofcom; Ofgem; the Financial Conduct Authority; the Competition and Markets Authority; techUK; Innovate Finance; Icebreaker One; Citizens Advice; the Coalition for a Digital Economy; the Open Data Institute; Ctrl-Shift; the Open Banking Implementation Entity; and the Investing and Saving Alliance.

Sam Trendall

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