This week’s ‘bonfire of the quangos’ has seen 192 government agencies axed, 118 merged and 171 reformed. Among them are Consumer Focus and the Office of Fair Trading – here’s how these changes may affect you.
Realistically, most people probably won’t notice much difference if Consumer Focus is axed, as the government has decided to focus on services provided by Citizens Advice (CAB) and trading standards.
This means the things most people interact with, or are aware of, such as getting high street advice through CAB and trading standards taking action against rogue traders, will carry on.
But there are changes to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) that will make a big difference to how fairly people are treated by big business. One of the roles of OFT was to take legal action against national companies or groups of businesses if they treat customers badly. A recent example being the legal action they took against high street banks over unfair bank charges.
The government wants to give responsibility for these cases to trading standards departments, but I think it’s hard to see how a trading standards department would have the power, resources or willingness to take on such massive cases.
What we think of the changes
Here at Which? we’re realistic about these changes – we knew there would be cuts across government bodies and we advised the government to protect frontline services as these are recognised and valued by people. We’ll be looking at the consultations and urge the government to consider how national cases can be properly managed.
We’re also keen to make sure the government doesn’t spend money on things we’re already doing – for example, there’s loads of free consumer rights information and advice on our website. So what’s the point of repeating this elsewhere?
How do you feel about the cuts and will you miss any of the axed agencies?