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The first 100 days of a new Government – a TSI wish list

We at the Trading Standards Institute urge the new Government in its first 100 days to acknowledge the inextricable link between consumer protection and economic growth. 

Consumers fuel economic expansion in the UK, yet consumer education and protection is often too low on the agenda and funding is frequently side-lined to projects with more outwardly visible benefits.  Recent figures from the National Audit Office indicate that local authority budgets are being cut across the board and the our workforce survey demonstrates that trading standards have seen an average of 40 per cent budget and 50 per cent staff reductions in the lifetime of this coalition. 

As local authority funding is stretched, we would like to see the new government rethink its funding strategy to consider the overall community impact of central funding decisions.     

We remain concerned that many consumers, especially those in vulnerable groups, frequently fall foul of the tricks of rogue traders and scams.  Shockingly, in at least one local authority, we are aware that every day they receive a report of someone losing their life-savings through a scam or doorstep crime.  Research has shown that for the frailest members of our society, enforcement is the only way to tackle the estimated £10bn per year that consumers lose through this kind of fraudulent activity.  

In light of such figures, we want to see further resources allocated to consumer education and enforcement projects in order to tackle criminal activity and help all consumers better understand their rights.  

Finally, we would like to see recognition from the Government about the role that trading standards play in tackling public health issues.  

From combating underage sales to regulating the sale of faulty and hazardous electrical goods, illicit tobacco and fake alcohol, trading standards have a vital role to play in maintaining the health of the nation.  Figures indicate that almost 600 UK children take up smoking every day, a habit that can ultimately take 10 years off their lives.  By regulating point of sales access to tobacco products, trading standards are helping fight this growing public health crisis.  Furthermore, financially stretched consumers are always looking for the best value products; cheap electrical goods, illicit alcohol and counterfeit cigarettes sold at reduced costs can often seem an attractive option.  Without effective enforcement to combat the sale of these products, consumers are being put at significant, sometimes deadly, risk.  

As the new Government sets out their policies we would like to see recognition of the crucial frontline work trading standards conducts in this area.  

We ask the Government to create policy proposals to tackle the problem of diminished funds and increased resource requirements across local authorities.  

We invite the new Government to actively engage with TSI, to meet with us to hear our proposals for new sustainable and effective solutions for local authority trading standards services.

You can find out what other organisations have on their wish list by visiting the Local Government Association's Thoughts on 100 Days website.