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IPPR’s ‘Purchasing Power’ report states that living standards of households in the UK have fallen over the last six years due to a combination of exceptionally low increases in wages and larger increases in prices. Substantial rises in the price of essentials, including energy, public transport and childcare, have been a particular problem for some families, with those on the lowest incomes feeling the biggest squeeze.


Consumers are trying to fight back. The internet has facilitated websites that compare prices and the quality of goods and services, making it easier for consumers to make the right decisions.


But some markets are so complex that they require special analysis and regulation. In this paper, IPPR consider four such markets:

  • energy
  • public transport
  • childcare
  • housing.


Making markets more competitive – such as increasing consumer information and banning practices designed to exploit consumers – is the best approach for many consumer markets. But complex markets require more innovative solutions. This is about finding alternative ways of achieving the best deal for consumers.