The Scottish Government has today announced plans to tackle nuisance calls. Its action plan represents a huge win for our Stop Nuisance Calls In Scotland campaign. Keith Brown MSP joins us once again to tell us more.
For the majority of us, nuisance calls are just that – a nuisance. However increasingly, nuisance and scam callers are targeting the old and the vulnerable, turning them from a mere nuisance into a menace.
We know that Scotland is disproportionately affected by nuisance calls; three of the top five cities affected by nuisance calls are in Scotland and nine out of ten Scottish households have received a nuisance call on their landline within the last year.
Unfortunately the power to regulate these calls and texts is reserved to the UK Government, making it extremely difficult for the Scottish Government to solve this issue.
However, I have said repeatedly that these challenges can’t stop us trying – the consequences of nuisance calls are too serious for that.
Nuisance Calls Commission
When I wrote for Which? Conversation last year, I was just about to chair the first meeting of the Nuisance Calls Commission; set up as a result of the Which? Stop Nuisance Calls In Scotland campaign. The Commission brought together regulators, industry and consumer groups to find practical actions. Which?, of course, was a Commission member, and I’m grateful to them and everyone else who committed time and effort.
What we learned at the Commission is that there’s a lot of good work underway. This work has brought about the publication of the Response to Scotland’s Nuisance Calls Commission – An Action Plan, launched today, which outlines what we can do to curb nuisance calls.
Action on nuisance calls
Within this Action Plan we set out how we will reduce the impact of nuisance calls and expand our focus to better protect our most vulnerable citizens.
One very practical measure that we are taking is to fund over 500 call blocking units. Although this doesn’t solve the issue for the majority, it ensures our most vulnerable citizens are protected.
We are also working on a range of measures to raise awareness about how individuals can protect themselves from these calls, and encourage good practice on behalf of businesses in Scotland.
Last week, I wrote to the UK Government on this issue because I believe more can be done such as; exploring an automatic opt-out model, for telecoms providers to provide more network solutions and to make it easier for people to report suspected scam calls.
Consumer awareness week
Our action plan launch coincides with the consumer awareness week organised by Which? and Citizens Advice Scotland which is also providing people with info and tips to help them protect themselves or their loved ones.
If we all come together to tackle this issue, we have the power to change the behaviour of companies who make nuisance and scam calls.
Your experiences are why we are taking action and I hope you continue to share them.
This is a guest contribution by Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs & Fair Work. All views expressed here are the Scottish Government’s own and not necessarily those also shared by Which?.