Consumer Minister Edward Davey announced today new proposals to simplify the confusing and overlapping provision of consumer protection.
In the new consultation ‘Empowering and Protecting Consumers’, ministers want to see a new simplified ‘consumer landscape’ with public funding concentrated on two bodies that consumers trust and already turn to for advice - Trading Standards and the Citizens Advice service. It is proposed:
- The Citizens Advice service to become the single service that consumers can turn to for information and advice. It will also act as their champion across a range of sectors.
- To strengthen the leadership and coordination of Local Authority Trading Standards Services in tackling difficult cases that cross local authority boundaries.
The consultation will run for 14 weeks until the end of September and government is keen that consumers, the voluntary and private sectors share their views on the proposed reforms.
Consumer Minister Edward Davey said:
“This government believes in giving more power to people. Our consumer policy is all about empowering consumers to make the right decisions for themselves when they buy goods and services.
“But we also need to ensure we have the right system of help, advice and protection when consumers need support. For too long people have been faced with a confusing landscape of different, public, private and voluntary consumer bodies, with overlapping roles and responsibilities.
“It is not always clear where to turn for trusted advice and information which consumers need to make good choices or a champion to support them when they have been ripped off.
“The proposals which I have published today seek to put an end to such confusion and make sure consumers are empowered and have champions. The Citizens Advice service has for a long time offered trusted advice, information and advocacy. So it’s right that it sits at the heart of our plans.
“Likewise, Trading Standards are trusted by the public to do a good job in enforcing consumer law and standing up for consumers.
“But there are barriers which get in the way of effective responses to rogues who operate across authority boundaries. Our proposed reforms will strengthen their hand in tackling these threats to consumers.”
Strengthening consumer power helps drive competition, making businesses more efficient and innovative. Reforming the consumer landscape was a key part of the Government’s Plan for Growth, published at the time of the Budget, and its focus on creating the right conditions to deliver strong, sustainable balanced economic growth.