Approved Trader Schemes
Considering a new standard for approved trader schemes
Following consultation, the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP) has decided to follow up with CTSI's recommendation to develop a new standard for approved trader schemes to alleviate consumer confusion in this sector.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has asked the British Standards Institute (BSI), in their role as the national standards body, to take this recommendation forward.
The first stage of the process was an open workshop on 15 June 2015 where the viability, funding strategy and contents of the proposed new standard was discussed.
A report on detailing the outcomes of this workshop is due to be released shortly.
Approved trader schemes: the current landscape
The process of selecting a business to provide goods and services is a complicated one. However, for many consumers, the ability to make an informed decision about price, quality and other protection measures, such as redress when things go wrong, is made easier by the formation of accreditation schemes and approval by government bodies or trading standards services.
Despite their benefits, the current landscape of approved trader schemes is complex for consumers, and while many approval schemes have gone a long way to raising standards and providing consumers with a visible means of deciphering business standards, the emergence of multiple schemes from across the public and private sector, coupled with the lack of coherence as to the level of consumer protection each scheme actually provides, does very little for alleviating confusion.
As a result of the current landscape, the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP) prioritised understanding the home improvement sector as one of their 2013/2014 research areas. CTSI were asked to lead on this work.
Discussion Paper and NSMC research
In late 2014 CTSI issued a consultation on the idea of a new approved trader alliance to be established with the aim of lessening confusion within the approval scheme landscape.
The Approved Trader Schemes for Public Authorities Discussion Paper sets out possible principles that could be used in an alliance of approved trader schemes.
In addition to this consultation we also comissioned the National Social Marketing Centre to compile a report on wider problems within the home improvement sector: 'A social marketing insight ptoject into understanding causes of disputes in the home improvement sector'.