The UK Government has announced new proposals to officially make the Scottish CAB Service a champion for consumer information, advice, education and advocacy – in addition to its current role as a provider of free, impartial and confidential advice.
As a result of these changes, CAS (and Citizens Advice England and Wales) will become the publicly-funded voice of consumers across Great Britain, championing their needs and empowering them to make the right choices for themselves.
Dominic Notarangelo, Chair of Citizens Advice Scotland said:
"We strongly welcome the UK Government’s recognition of the key role the Scottish Citizens Advice service can play in the provision of information, advice and education in relation to consumer matters.
"The impact of the Scottish CAB Service is already positive, significant and nationwide. With these new consumer functions, it will be even more so. CAB offices are embedded into our local communities; we are trusted; we are reliable and relevant. Having a one-stop consumer service will help citizens across Scotland, and the rest of the UK.
"We are now working closely with the UK Government, Scottish Government, Consumer Focus Scotland, Trading Standards and Cosla to ensure a smooth transition to these new arrangements.
"The key point for local people is that this will not change the way their CAB operates on a day-to-day level. We will still be there offering free, impartial advice – just as we always have. The only difference is that we will now offer even more services, with a strong, effective consumer advice function as part of our remit as well.”
The reforms are:
- To transfer central government funding for the national coordination of consumer advice and information from the OFT to the Citizens Advice service from April 2013.
- The Citizens Advice service successfully took over the Consumer Direct helpline on 2 April.
- To transfer central government funding for the national coordination of education about consumers’ rights from the OFT to the Citizens Advice service for consumer-facing education and to the Trading Standards Institute for business-facing education – from April 2013.
- To refocus Consumer Focus’s activities in a Regulated Industries Unit for energy and postal services from April 2013 and to transfer this to the Citizens Advice service in 2014.
- To strengthen the work of the Citizens Advice service on advocacy in other areas from April 2013.
- To establish a Strategic Intelligence, Prevention and Enforcement partnership involving the Competition and Markets Authority, Trading Standards, Regulated Industries Unit and the Citizens Advice service from April 2013. This will share intelligence to inform the activities of each of the partners and provide accountability for the national consumer protection system.
- The Trading Standards Institute will launch a successor to the OFT’s Consumer Code Approval Scheme in April 2013
- To transfer central government funding for national leadership and coordination of enforcement activity from the OFT to a new National Trading Standards Board from 2013 with an earlier transfer of BIS funding for regional enforcement from in April 2012.
Notes to editors - click to expand/collapse
- You can read the UK Government’s full response to the consultation on empowering and protecting consumers at: pdf no longer available
- Consumers who need help should contact the Citizens Advice consumer service at www.citizensadvice.org.uk or dial 03454 04 05 06.
- Across Great Britain, the Citizens Advice service already gives advice on over 600,000 consumer problems a year through local bureaux. In Scotland, bureaux dealt with 122,807 consumer issues last year. That includes advice on consumer credit, utilities, financial services, telecommunications and goods and services.
- Citizens Advice Scotland and its member bureaux form Scotland’s largest independent advice network. CAB advice services are delivered using nearly 200 service points throughout Scotland, from the islands to city centres.
- Citizens advice bureaux in Scotland helped clients with almost 550,000 new issues in 2010/11 – almost 1,500 new issues for every day of the year. Over 270,000 clients brought new issues to a bureau over the year.
- In 2010/11, Scottish bureaux achieved a financial gain of £126 million for clients based on funding of £16.3 million (including £7.6 million in core funding). This means that CAB clients were better off by £8 for each £1 of funding given to bureaux.