The Citizens Advice service in the UK is to become the main provider of information and advice to the public on consumer matters. The national charity will receive an additional £10m from the government to provide the service. The shake-up in consumer protection and advice was announced by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
From April 2013, the Citizens Advice service will represent consumers in unregulated industries (everything from retailers to builders), taking over from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and Consumer Focus. Responsibility for the regulated industries of gas, electricity and postal services will be transferred from Consumer Focus to a new Regulated Industries Unit (RIU), which will be created by April 2013 and work closely with the Citizens Advice service. In 2014, the government plans to transfer the RIU to the Citizens Advice service. A new National Trading Standards Board will be established by April 2013 to co-ordinate consumer protection between local authorities. Last month, the Citizens Advice service took over the running of the advice line for consumers provided previously by Consumer Direct.
Currently the government is consulting on enforcement in consumer protection. The consultation document includes proposals to simplify consumer protection enforcement laws and give powers to trading standards professionals to represent in cases before the county court.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, welcomed the announcement of the changes in consumer advice and protection, which she said would build on the long record of Citizens Advice Bureaux in offering consumer advice: ‘With consumer advice, advocacy and education all under one Citizens Advice service roof, consumers will get a service they know and trust.’
In Turkey, the president of The Foreign Citizens Advice Service, Karim Abdullah, has welcomed the new efforts and hopes that the Turkish consumer protection groups will follow a similar course of action. He added ‘Although it’s still early days for us in Turkey we are seeing a marked increase in enforcement from consumer regulators in all areas of the country’.
Established in 2005, in Kusadasi, the service in Turkey now offers a one-stop-shop for consumers with foreign nationalities across the whole of the country. The team of paid staff, volunteers and legal specialists provide free and independent advice & support throughout their network of offices in Turkey, Ireland & the UK as well as with a dedicated group of client adviser who provide online assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.