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Consumer protection reformed

Consumer protection reformed

Category: Money

Updated: 12/04/2012
First Published: 12/04/2012

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

The make-up of consumer protection in the UK is to change, with Citizens Advice at the frontline of the new service, it has been confirmed.

Citizens Advice will take over from the Office of Fair Trading and Consumer Focus as the organisation that consumers contact with their initial grievances.

Citizens Advice will represent consumers in unregulated industries, with a Regulated Industries Unit to fight the corner of consumers in the energy and postal industries.

The new set-up means that Consumer Focus is to be abolished.

As part of a reform of consumer protection, a new National Trading Standards Board will be responsible for tackling issues such as internet scams and illegal money lending.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive at national charity Citizens Advice, said the news was good for consumers.

"With consumer advice, advocacy and education all under one Citizens Advice service roof, consumers will get a service they know and trust," she added.

Consumer Affairs Minister, Norman Lamb, said: "For too long people have been faced with an array of different bodies for advice and support, but its not always clear who to turn to first.

"There will also be clearer responsibilities and better coordination between enforcers and consumer bodies. A new National Trading Standards Board is exactly what we need to combat priority areas such as loan sharks and internet scams."

Rogue trading and other scams are estimated to leave Britons more than £6 billion out of pocket each year.

However, the new set up has been blasted as 'ill conceived and under resourced' by consumer group Which?

"Giving OFT responsibilities to local Trading Standards officers and the Citizens Advice is like asking GPs to carry out heart surgery," said Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith.

"The Government knows that failing to enforce consumer law already costs the British public over £6 billion a year but they seem determined to abandon consumers to increasingly sophisticated rip offs despite the harm this does to the economy."

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