October 11, 2010 | Jim Killock

Consumer Focus faces the chop

Staff at Consumer Focus were told last week that they face the chop, as part of the government’s “bonfire of the quangos”.

Consumer Focus – the successor the National Consumer Council – has fought the Digital Economy Act, fuel poverty, lobbies on data protection and privacy issues. They are a great complement to voluntary bodies like ORG and Which? as they have guaranteed access to government, and work across consumer protection issues.

Nothing is perfect. But it is easy to see that we would be worse off without Consumer Focus. CF deliver real value for people: to cite just one recent example, one of their predecessor organizations complained about back-billing of energy complaints, saving poorer customers from being hit by large historic bills.[i] 

They worked with us to stop the Digital Economy Act: which would have saved businesses and families larger Internet bills, as well as protecting us from spurious complaints about copyright infringement.

They are working right now on data protection and privacy – work which will support ORG's campaigning, and help protect UK citizens.

Worse still, other consumer protection agencies including the Office of Fair trading are also likely to be closed, with duties shunted out to local authorities.

When the Cameron and Clegg's coalition signed their agreement, they said:

The Government believes that action is needed to protect consumers, particularly the most vulnerable, and to promote greater competition across the economy. We need to promote more responsible corporate and consumer behaviour through greater transparency [ii]

It is very unclear how abolishing the OFT and Consumer Focus squares with this. Whatever your views about cuts, removing key agencies with no proper regard for the consequences is bound to be a bad idea.

There is an action here if you want to write to your MP.


[i] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumer_Focus

[ii] http://programmeforgovernment.hmg.gov.uk/files/2010/05/coalition-programme.pdf


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