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National Parliamentary Inquiry into UK supply chains and online marketplaces launched

Posted 23/05/23

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG on Consumer Protection, alongside the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) have started a series of evidence sessions to identify challenges facing the UK supply chain and issues impacting consumers using online marketplaces. The Inquiry coincides with the recent publication from the Government of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill and follows growing concern around the safety, reliability and standards of goods available to UK consumers.

Trading Standards experts are deeply concerned about the number of unsafe goods that are available to consumers through many of the UK’’s leading online marketplaces. This covers a range of everyday items including electric fans and battery chargers that pose the risk of exploding when in use, small electrical items that pose risk of electrocution, toys that don’t meet UK standards and can be deadly for children and cosmetics that contain illegal levels of substances than can cause chemical burns and blindness.

Many of the UK’’s leading charities, consumer protection bodies and business groups will be giving evidence including Which? Electrical Safety First, The British Toy and Hobby Association, National Trading Standards and the Office for Product Safety and Standards.

The Inquiry is aiming to better understand some of the challenges facing the current online marketplaces and supply chains, including:
• What the current risks are to consumers, including who is most at risk and what type of products are being sold on online marketplaces and through the supply chain;
• Issues across the supply chain, including how to help reduce non-complaint goods entering UK market and the roles and responsibilities of different actors in the supply chain, including ports and borders, wholesalers/fulfilment houses, retailers and consumers;
• The impact of supply chain issues on legitimate businesses to ensure that product safety is not compromised;
• What needs to happen in terms of legislative or regulatory changes in order to tackle the current issues and what innovations are proposed.

John Herriman, Chief Executive of CTSI said: "Online marketplaces have revolutionised shopping habits for UK consumers - with the click of a button consumers can order goods to arrive at their homes the very next day. However, the legislation protecting consumers has not kept pace with these changes and while the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill may address some of these concerns, we want to fully understand nationally what many Local Trading Standards teams are reporting locally. There is currently a vacuum when it comes to laws that third-party sellers need to adhere to when listing items for sale on online marketplaces. There are also concerns that imported goods are not meeting the standards for the UK market – vapes being a recent example of this. Part of this national Inquiry will be looking at what needs to happen to protect consumers and ensure our supply chains are robust.”

“Although Trading Standards is doing its utmost to protect the public from unsafe good, we remain concerned about the increased levels of risk from the flooding of unsafe goods on UK marketplaces, and the potential for this to deteriorate further if resources are not increased to carry out adequate checks at our ports and borders to intercept these dangerous good at the point of entry.”

Yvonne Fovargue MP, Chair of the APPG on Consumer Protection, said: “Online scams have become increasingly sophisticated and hard-to-spot while the cost-of-living crisis has made customers ever more susceptible to being taken for a ride. It’s a dangerous combination that calls for a fresh approach to consumer protection. I am confident that our Inquiry will help in that search”.

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Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is a national not for profit established in 1881 which supports the UK’’s Trading Standards profession, and works to protect consumers and safeguard honest businesses. CTSI’’s members are engaged in delivering frontline Trading Standards services at local authorities and in businesses. www.tradingstandards.uk
Please contact CTSI Press Office: [email protected] for any queries.

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