Under proposals set out in a 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.
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.
The consultation paper sets out proposals for the Citizens Advice service - the familiar bureaux on the high street and their supporting national organisations - 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. In turn, this will help empower them to make more informed decisions about the goods and services they buy.
It also sets out plans to strengthen the leadership and coordination of Local Authority Trading Standards Services in tackling difficult cases that cross local authority boundaries.
The ‘Empowering and Protecting Consumers’ 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.
Notes to editors:
- The ‘Empowering and Protecting Consumers’ consultation can be viewed at www.bis.gov.uk
- Consumer policy is not devolved to Scotland or Wales therefore the consultation applies in both those countries. However consumer policy is devolved in Northern Ireland and so this consultation does not apply there.
- The Plan for Growth was published along side the Budget in March 2011. It set out a radical plan of reform to help create the right conditions for business to start up, invest, grow and create jobs, and can be found here: http://cdn.hm-treasury.gov.uk/2011budget_growth.pdf
- The Growth Review is a fundamental assessment of what every part of Government is doing to provide the conditions for private sector growth, removing barriers to private sector success wherever it can. This is rolling programme over the course of the whole parliament. More information on the Growth Review can be found at www.bis.gov.uk/growth
- BIS’s online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See [http://www.bis.gov.uk/newsroom](http://www.bis.gov.uk/newsroom) for more information.
Notes to Editors
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