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You are viewing : Home » LOCAL COUNCILS UPDATE (view all editions) » 2012 Editions » July Edition

Rural Communities short-changed

People in remote rural communities are often forced to pay more for goods and services, says the Government’s competition watchdog, the Office of Fair Trading, in a new report which includes the results of its consultation into markets in remote communities across the UK (Welsh version also available). Around half a million people live in remote areas in the UK.

Some 500 responses to the OFT’s call for evidence, including several from town, parish and community councils, raised concerns about high fuel and grocery prices, and limited or high cost delivery services. They also voiced concerns about inadequate public transport, slow internet speeds and poor mobile phone coverage. The OFT received responses from individuals, public bodies, elected representatives, companies and voluntary organisations.

Overall, the OFT found that higher prices and limited choice in these remote areas can result from low sales volumes and weak competition, with some businesses having local monopolies.

Where local markets can only sustain a limited number of suppliers it can be difficult for consumers to get the benefits of sustained competition, the report says.

The internet increasingly offers opportunities to access a wider range of suppliers, it adds, but action may be necessary to ensure this is not hampered by delivery terms and costs.

The OFT also identifies ways in which business, government and enforcement partners, as well as the OFT, can play complementary roles in ensuring fair dealing by business for consumers.

 (Published by SLCC: 19 June 2012)