Consumer White Paper is good news - but could go even further, says Trading Standards Institute
The Trading Standards Institute (TSI), today welcomed the Government's consumer White Paper, saying it contained several measures that would boost consumer confidence in difficult times.
However, TSI are calling for even tougher action on several issues, including product safety.
'The "consumer advocate" proposal is really good news because it should help to foster a healthy balance between consumers and businesses,' said Ron Gainsford, chief executive of TSI.
'It is particularly important to raise consumer confidence in ways such as this during a time of global recession.
'But we do hope that the advocate will be a high profile person with attitude, someone people can relate to and with the teeth to tackle issues quickly, decisively and practically.'
Mr Gainsford added: 'We are delighted at the prospect of a fighting fund to make it easier for action to be taken across regional and national boundaries - but want to make sure that this money is labelled primarily for use by hard-pressed trading standards services.
'The announcement of 'banning orders' that could be imposed against persistent rogue traders will be a tremendous addition to the variety of methods employed by trading standards services to protect consumers from unscrupulous businesses.
'We are also particularly pleased to see a proposal for collective actions to be taken on behalf of consumers so that they can then get the compensation they deserve.
'When we examine the detail in the White Paper we hope that we will also see other initiatives that we have been campaigning for - such as a licence for businesses to practise and the promise of future funding for Consumer Direct.'
TSI supports proposals in the White Paper for extra resources for local authorities in areas around the major ports, which carry out product safety testing on imports, particularly of electrical goods and toys.
However, TSI would also like to see further support for local authorities that carry out product testing with major manufacturers around the UK. The introduction of a national sampling programme and national injury database should also be considered.
The setting up of a mechanism for consumers duped by overseas scams to get their money back is good news, but we also need better co-ordination between trading standards in the UK and their international partners.
Also welcomed are plans to monitor more closely debt recovery practices to make sure they are carried out responsibly.
But TSI will be calling for more support for local credit unions, which offer credit to the most vulnerable people in society - and it will be cautioning against tightening up too much on credit checks on consumers as this could plunge some people into the murky waters of loan sharks.
'We look forward to playing a key role in the consultation about this White Paper and among other initiatives we will be asking for will be action to simplify consumer contract documents so that they are written in plain English and can be readily understood before being signed,' said Mr Gainsford.
Notes to Editors
For further information or to arrange an interview please contact the Trading Standards Institute press office on 0845 608 9430 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Trading Standards Institute
The Trading Standards Institute has represented the interests of Trading Standards professionals for 120 years. We have a long and proud history of ensuring that the views of our members are well represented at the highest level of government, both nationally and internationally.
Our aim is to promote excellence and enhance the professionalism of our members in support of empowering and informing consumers, encouraging and working with honest businesses, targeting rogue traders and rogue trading practices and contributing to the health, welfare and wellbeing of citizens and communities.
TSI members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities in response to 2 million consumer and business complaints and enquiries each year. They also support the delivery of new initiatives such as Consumer Direct, providing first point of contact practical consumer advice.
They also work in the business, consumer and central government sectors in promoting and influencing the safety, prosperity and enhancement of individuals and markets with a dependency on effective and professional trading standards contributions and interventions.