James Walker: Budget must level field between north and south

Cancellations hit Scottish airports harder. Picture: Geoff Caddick/GettyCancellations hit Scottish airports harder. Picture: Geoff Caddick/Getty
Cancellations hit Scottish airports harder. Picture: Geoff Caddick/Getty
As the new Chancellor prepares to deliver his first Budget, Resolver’s complaints data reveals the huge scale of “levelling up” that will be required in order to meet the government’s commitment to tackle disparities between the north and south.

Exclusive data from Resolver examining over half a million complaints has revealed that people in the north of England and Scotland have significantly higher cause for complaint about vital infrastructure sectors.

Resolver examined complaints about energy, telecommunications, travel and water services. Overall, Resolver found that people living in northern England and Scotland experienced more problems with every area of infrastructure, apart from the water sector. They reported a strikingly higher number of issues concerning debt, billing, availability of services and customer service when compared with the south.

We’ll be looking at Wales and Northern Ireland separately.

North v south

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 Energy: People in the north of England made 50 per cent more complaints about debt-related problems and had to make nearly a third more complaints about customer service than people in the South.

 Telecoms: Complaints about telecoms billing and pricing problems were 43 per cent higher in the north, often linked to technical problems or limitations of service. A quarter more people complained about customer services too.

 Travel: If you get a train, bus or plane in the north, you’re 30 per cent more likely to encounter a problem with delays. Nearly 20 per cent are struggling more to get refunds through “delay repay” too.

Scotland v south

 Energy: Huge numbers of people are experiencing problems with incorrect meter readings in Scotland (60 per cent) and switching supplier was over 50 per cent more likely to result in a complaint along with basic account problems (also 60 per cent higher).

 Telecoms: Poor signals make up 15 per cent more complaints in Scotland and a third more people experienced problems with customer service.

 Travel: A further third of people in Scotland experienced problems with delayed or cancelled flights and nearly 20 per cent more had problems with bookings across the whole travel sector.

The data shows that people in northern England and Scotland are facing challenges in their everyday lives when trying to pay or switch energy supplier, use their mobile, access a decent broadband signal and get connected with transport services, from trains and buses to planes, also posing major concerns.

Resolver’s chief executive, Alex Neill, said: “It’s clear from our data that the north/south divide really does exist. People in northern England and Scotland are being left behind.

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“We all struggle to access, connect or use essential services like energy, telecoms and transport at times – but this is hitting those in the north and Scotland much harder. The Chancellor must use the forthcoming Budget to address the issues causing people to complain, so that vital infrastructure in the UK offers the same opportunities for all.”



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