Last week we heard of plans to fine the bosses behind nuisance call firms. These plans are a hugely positive step towards stamping out nuisance calls, but the fight isn’t over yet. And particularly so in Scotland. Keith Brown MSP joins us to tell us more…
There’s one month to go until National Consumer Week. So I want to highlight the rise of nuisance calls and their harmful impact. For many, they’re simply annoying. For others, however, whose circumstances may make them more vulnerable, the outcome can be much worse. These calls can be a source of anxiety, distress, or even financial hardship.
I was encouraged to see last week that the UK government plans to hold directors accountable when companies make nuisance calls. This is a welcome step forward, but I know there is still work to be done, and I want to make sure that the Scottish government plays its part.
Action on nuisance calls
Which? Research has found that nuisance calling is a bigger problem for people in Scotland than the rest of the UK. For example, in one month, 91% of Scottish respondents received a nuisance call on their landline, compared with 71% for the rest of the UK. We don’t yet know the reasons for this.
The UK government are responsible for the regulation of nuisance calls and texts. But, going forward, I will now use the Scottish government’s new consumer powers to find ways to reduce their impact.
In June, I held the Scottish government’s ‘Nuisance Calls Summit’, which brought together regulators, industry and consumer groups. The Summit highlighted some key areas where work is needed.
As a result of that summit, I have established a short-life Nuisance Calls Commission that will meet for the first time during National Consumer Week.
I will challenge the Commission to develop and put into place solutions that will make a long-term difference. This includes:
- empowering consumers to protect themselves;
- supporting businesses that want to do the right thing;
- finding effective ways to tackle repeat offenders;
- and making it easier for those affected by nuisance calls to take action.
Searching for a solution
We will not find solutions overnight. Campaigns such as Which?’s ‘Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts’ are giving people a voice. They may provide a template for future efforts, but I know that real progress will be made only when we all work together.
I hope that through the Commission we can begin to end the blight of nuisance calls, and ensure that businesses that do the right thing are the ones to gain the attention.
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?.