Headlines: January 25th, 2002

The Government has set out its vision for the modernisation of trading standards services. The thrust is to give a better service to consumers, whose interests trading standards offices protect in their work.A new National Performance Framework will help modernise trading standards services, and the forthcoming Enterprise Bill will increase the legal powers available to trading standards.

The framework has been designed to help trading standards departments to be more effective and improve their services to consumers and business. Already piloted in 19 regions, the it introduces core performance standards, while at the same time reflecting the specific needs of local communities.

The service is also to receive 10 million pounds of funding from the Modernisation Fund to help consumer protection bodies to come up with new initiatives. One project already made possible by the Modernisation Fund is a website called ‘ripofftipoff.net’ which allows members of the public to report rogue traders to trading standards departments. Launched at the end of last year, the site has already received over 7,000 hits.

The next initiatives to be supported by the modernising money are better coordination between the 200 plus Trading Standards departments in the UK, and extending networks between trading standards offices and consumer support networks like the Citizens Advice Bureaux.

For more on the Modernisation Fund visit www.dti.gov.uk