Trading Standards: Cost of living crisis will greatly expand consumer vulnerability
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) warns that the cost of living crisis will greatly expand consumer vulnerability and that the UK urgently needs a more effective strategy to protect consumers.
This month, Ofgem announced that the energy Default Tariff Cap would rise by 54% or £693 from April 1, while the Bank of England reported that UK inflation rose to 5.5% in January - the highest rate since March 1992. This challenging economic news combined with the long-term social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing changes brought about by the UK's exit from the European Union creates a perfect storm for consumers.
Trading standards experts are concerned that the cost of living crisis will lead to openings for fraudsters to immiserate a financially desperate public, especially the most vulnerable. Some of the likely consequences listed by consumer protection experts include an increase in loan shark activities and energy tariff mis-selling by doorstep sellers, alongside other questionable money-saving schemes.
CTSI Chief Executive, John Herriman, said: "The cost of living crisis risks a significant rise in consumer detriment that the UK has not seen for decades. The COVID-19 pandemic warned us about the depths some will sink to through the scams that emerged out of it. For the unscrupulous, crises are opportunities to make a dishonest profit from the most vulnerable.
"Local trading standards services, working in partnership with other agencies, have continually risen to the challenges of protecting consumers, but this has become increasingly difficult after funding cuts of 50% over the past decade. Gaps in consumer protection are emerging, and whilst trading standards professionals are doing their utmost to protect the public, we are worried about the potential for significantly increased levels of risk.
"CTSI is in an ongoing dialogue with the UK Government and other stakeholders about how best to protect consumers. These concerns illustrate the need for a consumer protection strategy that recognises these deep impacts and that will mitigate them as effectively as possible."
Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)
CTSI 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. CTSI's members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses. www.tradingstandards.uk
CTSI Press Office: firstname.lastname@example.org, 01268 582240