COSLA agree to trading standards future workforce proposals
Following a lengthy review designed to better protect consumers and tackle the heavily declining numbers of trading standards staff, COSLA (the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) has responded to proposals to address the future delivery of Scottish local authority trading standards services.
The review followed the 2014 Audit Scotland report – Protecting Consumers, which concluded “the long-term viability of councils’ trading standards services is under threat and urgent action is needed to strengthen protection for consumers₁.”
The Society for Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland (SCOTSS) Workforce Survey 2017 revealed that there had been a 22% fall in Scottish trading standards officers across the last five years₂.
The proposals agreed by council leaders, committed COSLA to continue to work with governments to ensure consumer protection is properly resourced throughout Brexit and to immediately consider workforce pressures and develop a proposal for securing the future workforce. Finally, leaders were asked to consider how trading standards might be reorganised to be more resilient.
In response to the proposals, COSLA recognised that “many local services face similar pressures to those of the Trading Standards service and that this service cannot be considered in isolation”, also noting that Brexit is likely to place further pressures on Trading Standards and that “it is important that the workforce issues are examined in more detail”.
However, COSLA fell short of agreeing to a full reorganisation of trading standards, as many other local services also suffer from similar pressures. COSLA recommended leaders consider the Improvement Service proposals in their local context, and offered to support local authorities in tackling the workforce issues, whilst looking at how trading standards services can align with future local authority structures.
CTSI is disappointed in the lack of a formal commitment to reorganise and properly resource services. CTSI Chief Executive, Leon Livermore, said: “With evidence of haemorrhaging staff numbers and consumer protection under threat, we’re concerned that numbers will continue to decline while the recommendations are implemented.”
“Whilst we’re encouraged that action is being considered to protect and strengthen the trading standards workforce - and ensure there are suitable resources to tackle Brexit - we feel urgent and immediate action must be taken to ensure trading standards and consumer protection remains sustainable and effective in Scotland.”