beta

You're viewing our new website - find out more

Publication - Report

Report of the Working Group on consumer and competition policy

Published: 10 Nov 2015
Part of:
Business, industry and innovation, Economy
ISBN:
9781785448119

Report considering how best to implement changes to the consumer and competition landscape.

34 page PDF

565.2kB

34 page PDF

565.2kB

Contents
Report of the Working Group on consumer and competition policy
Recommendations

34 page PDF

565.2kB

Recommendations

Following consideration of the Expert Panel reports and subsequent discussions, a variety of key themes emerged which resulted in a number of overarching recommendations. In addition to these, there was a series of specific recommendations for each of the four pillars of consumer protection and competition.

The Consumer and Competition Policy Working Group recommends that the Scottish Government should:

1.

create a new statutory public body, Consumer Scotland, to ensure that the voice of Scottish consumers is heard by policy makers, business, public services, regulators and governments.

2.

develop a consumer policy that empowers as well as protects consumers.

3.

ensure that Consumer Scotland develops a coherent consumer strategy that recognises and supports the links between all four pillars, and simplifies the landscape to make it easy for consumers of all demographics to access help when they need it.

4.

investigate if new legislation will be required for Consumer Scotland to gather and share robust information across the four pillars from a range of sources to prevent and detect harm, and support businesses in continuous improvement.

5.

ensure appropriate protocols are in place for data sharing to ensure best outcomes for consumers.

6.

set out clear lines of accountability for Consumer Scotland to the Scottish Parliament and consider whether there may be benefits in having a dedicated Consumer Minister.

7.

ensure Consumer Scotland is independent and has a governance structure that supports independence.

8.

ensure that Consumer Scotland has the powers and duties outlined in the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007.

The Consumer and Competition Policy Working Group recommends that the Scottish Government should ensure that Consumer Scotland has the following statutory powers and duties:

1.

information-gathering powers along the lines of those currently held by Citizens Advice and the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland.

2.

rights to refer failing markets to regulators along the lines of those currently held by Citizens Advice and the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland.

3.

rights to be consulted by economic regulators on matters which affect Scottish consumer interests.

4.

rights of appeal where appropriate against high impact regulatory decisions.

5.

powers to initiate super-complaints.

6.

resources to sponsor and support collective actions under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

7.

to deal with a situation where a Trading Standards service is deemed to be performing unsatisfactorily.

On consumer advocacy, the Consumer and Competition Working Group recommends that Scottish Government should:

1.

ensure that the proposed advocacy functions for Consumer Scotland be as broad as possible, covering private and public markets and all of the regulated sectors.

2.

make best use of existing resources by ensuring Consumer Scotland works in partnership with current and future consumer advocacy stakeholders.

3.

ensure that the Consumer Futures advocacy powers sit within Consumer Scotland. [22]

4.

work with relevant organisations to map out the consumer advocacy landscape to identify the gaps within the current provision.

5.

ensure that Consumer Scotland balances the need for technical regulatory expertise with the need to maintain a high level consumer perspective.

6.

ensure that Consumer Scotland promotes a consumer-focused approach to economic regulation through engagement with UK regulators on how Scottish consumers' views are integrated into the regulatory process.

7.

acknowledge regulatory initiatives that exist in Scotland and seek agreement from the relevant UK regulators to pilot a consumer-focused approach to regulation in Scotland.

On consumer advice, the Consumer and Competition Working Group recommends that Scottish Government should:

1.

work with key stakeholders to map out the consumer advice landscape to identify duplication and gaps in provision.

2.

ensure that, where gaps are identified, steps are taken to fill them so that consumer advice provision across Scotland is comprehensive.

3.

work towards a single portal for consumers to seek advice and be referred quickly to the correct advice provider.

4.

work with consumer advice providers to increase the range of users accessing advice provision, through marketing, coordination of education, and analysis of the factors that prevent or enable access.

5.

ensure that all consumer advice (including education and information) adheres to a consistently high standard, and takes account of the needs of different demographics.

6.

ensure that Consumer Scotland works with Education Scotland to inform curriculum development so that the needs of tomorrow's consumers are adequately met thus reducing future detriment.

On enforcement, the Consumer and Competition Working Group recommends that Scottish Government should:

1.

ensure that Consumer Scotland is able to facilitate the changes required on enforcement delivery to ensure that Trading Standards services have the necessary capacity and expertise.

2.

ensure that Consumer Scotland provides effective co-ordination across Trading Standards services.

3.

set out a requirement for Consumer Scotland to develop relationships with other relevant agencies and improve co-ordination across the enforcement landscape.

4.

ensure that Consumer Scotland addresses current problems relating to succession planning in an ageing profession and lack of training opportunities within the Trading Standards service.

5.

ensure Consumer Scotland has responsibility for setting national enforcement priorities - from which national enforcement standards should flow.

6.

ensure that Consumer Scotland should approve an annual operating plan, following consultation with key stakeholders, and which strikes a balance between local and national priorities.

7.

ensure that the elements of Trading Standards Scotland within COSLA that look at strategic intelligence and national priorities should be placed in Consumer Scotland.

On redress, the Consumer and Competition Working Group recommends that Scottish Government should:

1.

scope the wider consumer ADR landscape and monitor the impact of the newly created Consumer Ombudsman portal and other changes in the redress landscape.

2.

develop a model of Scottish consumer ADR that directs consumers to the appropriate redress scheme; sets standards; requires data sharing and enables proactive harm prevention; and ensures common procedures are followed by consumer ADR providers.

3.

consider whether Consumer Scotland is an appropriate body for delivering Scottish consumer ADR functions and whether it should become the competent authority for Scotland.

4.

consider how to create a more joined up approach with existing Scottish consumer ADR services within the consumer redress landscape such as mediation, arbitration, courts and tribunals.

On competition policy, the Consumer and Competition Working Group recommends that Scottish Government should:

1.

develop a competition policy for Scotland including any rationale for how it differs from that of the UK and EU and the outcomes it seeks to achieve.

2.

ensure the respective roles and responsibilities of how it will engage with Consumer Scotland and the CMA are clear and distinct.

3.

consider how to increase engagement and participation in market investigations amongst Scottish stakeholders and CMA.

4.

develop proposals for delivering competition advocacy - assessing the competition impact of Scottish policy and legislation.

5.

ensure Consumer Scotland conducts credible analysis of public and private Scottish markets to enable market studies and investigations with the aim of increasing the focus on and prioritisation of Scottish work, including influencing CMA priorities.

6.

ensure that Consumer Scotland has the resources to sponsor and support collective actions under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

7.

ensure that Consumer Scotland has the leadership and competition expertise to be credible.


Contact

Email: Peter Irving, peter.irving@gov.scot