Headlines: April 18th, 2012

Consumer advice has been added to the role of the Citizens Advice service and it has now become a champion for consumer information across a range of sectors. A new Trading Standards Board will co-ordinate enforcement and tackle rouge traders.

Citizens Advice will take on responsibilities and resources from the Office for Fair Trading and Consumer Focus. A new advice line succeeding Consumer Direct has been launched by the Citizens Advice service.

Trading Standards will continue to play a critical role in protecting consumers and businesses. Increased funding of £10.5m is being provided to build on local expertise and strengthen mechanisms for cross-boundary working. This will make it easier to catch unscrupulous traders.

The new National Trading Standards Board will bring together representatives of Trading Standards from England and Wales to prioritise, fund and coordinate national and regional enforcement cases.

The Board will be responsible for gathering important intelligence from around the country to combat rogue traders, and tackle priorities such as internet scams, illegal money lending and other enforcement issues that go beyond local authority boundaries.

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. The Citizens Advice service will become the publicly-funded voice of consumers, championing their needs and empowering them to make the right choices for themselves.

He added: “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.”