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65/09 08 June 2009
Action by local authority Trading Standards Services (TSS) to protect the public from unfair trading practices saves UK consumers at least £347 million a year, the OFT revealed today.
In a new study OFT found that, on average, for every £1 that TSS spend on this work, they deliver direct consumer savings of at least £6.
The overall figure of £347million includes:
The groundbreaking research is the first time the financial impact of this work, carried out by nearly 200 TSS across the UK, has been evaluated. The OFT is also encouraging individual TSS to use the same methodologies to estimate consumer savings they deliver locally.
OFT Chairman Philip Collins said:
'The current economic climate means that work by local authority Trading Standards Services to promote and maintain fair trading in their communities and across the UK is more important than ever.
These findings demonstrate the very substantial contribution that Trading Standards Services make to the economic prosperity of the UK by protecting consumers and preventing them losing hundreds of millions of pounds each year.'
Consumer Minister Gareth Thomas said:
'The impressive work of Trading Standards Services translates into nearly £350million of savings each year for consumers. Trading Standards is working hard to stop rogue traders ripping people off whilst ensuring that businesses can still compete effectively.'
Councillor Geoffrey Theobald OBE, the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) Chairman said:
'This report from the OFT shows how valuable council trading standards services are to local people and they really do save them and businesses a lot of money. It shows that in levelling the playing field for all, council trading standards officers are keeping an extra £347 million in people's pockets and confirms they are doing everything possible to protect consumers and ensure that businesses can compete fairly.'
Download the research (pdf 293 kb).
1. The OFT research was carried out in partnership with over 25 TSS, and with strategic assistance from LACORS, East Sussex TSS, Warwickshire TSS, and City of York TSS.
2. TSS are funded by and accountable to local authorities and they work to local priorities set by councillors which focus on the particular needs of the local community, as well as national priorities set by government departments and agencies. TSS enforce a broad range of legislation which, as well as fair trading, often includes responsibility for animal health, food safety and underage sales of tobacco, alcohol, knives and fireworks. The scope of the evaluation is limited to the financial impacts of TSS fair trading work.
3. The OFT is the UK's competition and consumer protection authority. The OFT works in partnership with TSS across the UK to promote and protect the interests of consumers and businesses. The OFT also takes a role in providing strategic leadership and support to TSS in relation to the fair trading remit that the OFT and TSS share. This evaluation is a product of that strategic leadership and support role.
4. LACORS (the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services) is the local government central body responsible for overseeing local authority regulatory and related services in the UK. LACORS is a local government central body created by the UK local authority associations which comprise of the Local Government Association (LGA), Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA). LACORS is mainly funded from local government monies.
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