‘Conmen have never had it so good’ TSI Conference hears
The message that ‘Conmen have never had it so good’ was the stark reality spelt out at the launch session – ‘Desperate times, desperate consumers’ – at the annual Trading Standards Institute Conference in Bournemouth this week.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens’ Advice (and one of the panel members at ‘Desperate times, desperate consumers’ told consumer affairs and trading standards professionals that, in today’s harsh economic times, “conmen have never had it so good”.
She said that the current economic recession had provided rogue traders with opportunities to make money out of desperate consumers who are seeking to manage their restricted finances.
And she added that this was at a time when resources for consumer protection were also being squeezed hard.
The message came in a panel debate about the issues consumers are currently facing in desperate economic times.
A disturbing array of facts about the reality of life facing consumers in the UK was also revealed at the session:
Victims’ losses amounted to over £200 million (in cases dealt with by the Financial Services Authority in 2010).
The number of cases involving work-related training courses, dealt with by Citizens’ Advice, has risen by 47% over the last three years.
Personal debt in the UK now totals £1.45 trillion and is expected to increase.
Only 7% of those in financial difficulty are getting help.
And other facts emerged, leading to a fuller picture of the current – and perhaps future – of the consumer protection landscape:
Annual funding for Trading Standards is set to fall from £247 million in 2009/2010 to between £140 to £170 million by 2014 (according to BIS)
78% of UK consumers have confidence in the current consumer protection regime, compared to an average of just 55% in the whole of the EU (according to the EU Market Scoreboard).
These details emerged as the panel aired their views of the future of the consumer protection landscape to a packed audience of representatives from trading standards, Citizens Advice, elected local government councillors and business. The panel comprised Gillian Guy (Citizens Advice Chief Executive), Ron Gainsford Trading Standards Institute Chief Executive, Guy Wilkes (Financial Services Authority), Mike AcAteer (Financial Inclusion Centre) and Martyn Hocking (editor of Which?).
Earlier, Baroness Christine Crawley, TSI President, had set the scene when she told the conference: “You exist to protect ordinary families from the sharks and shysters and sharp practitioners who would plague our high streets and our websites. You are there to make business play fair when it might be tempted to cut corners. You work to guarantee the consumer, rich and poor alike, a fair shake.”
She stressed that the whole trading standards profession “is committed to the kind of change within the TSI itself and within Government policy that will ensure that the precious resource is not only spent wisely, but is used to upgrade our national and local delivery machinery.”
Notes for Editors:
For further information or to arrange an interview please contact the Trading Standards Institute press officer Lizi Piggins on 0845 6089430 or 07780675815 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Trading Standards Institute (TSI)
TSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally. We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities.
TSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses. We are also supporting the delivery of initiatives such as the advice services Consumer Direct, UK ECC and UK ECCS.
The Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards Conference 2011
The national Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards Conference and Exhibition 2011, organised by the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) is a 'must' for consumer journalists! The TSI-hosted annual Conference and Exhibition is the leading consumer affairs and trading standards event in Europe.
The 2011 Conference is being held at the Bournemouth International Centre from Tuesday 21 June to Thursday 23 June. The conference is hosted by TSI president Baroness Christine Crawley and TSI chairman Peter Heafield.
Journalists and photographers are welcome to attend but should contact the press office on 0845 608 9430 to arrange passes. Please also contact the press office should you wish to organise any interviews.
Some 2,000 people are expected to attend the conference, including representatives from local and central government and those interested in fair trading, representatives of business and commerce, together with consumer organisations. There will be in excess of 100 exhibitors. This makes it an ideal place for consumer affairs journalists to mingle and make contacts!