Citizens Advice wins wider role

CITIZEN’S Advice is to be given an enlarged role under proposals designed to simplify consumer protection for the public.

The shake-up of the consumer protection system will see Citizens Advice Bureaux take on responsibilities from the Office of Fair Trading and the taxpayer-funded Consumer Focus group.

Dominic Notarangelo, chairman of Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “We strongly welcome the UK government’s recognition of the key role the Scottish Citizens Advice service can play in the provision of information, advice and education in relation to consumer matters.

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“The impact of the Scottish CAB service is already positive, significant and nationwide.

“With these new consumer functions, it will be even more so. CAB offices are embedded into our local communities; we are trusted; we are reliable and relevant.

“Having a one-stop consumer service will help citizens across Scotland, and the rest of the UK.

“We are now working closely with the UK government, Scottish Government, Consumer Focus Scotland, trading standards and Cosla to ensure a smooth transition to these new arrangements.”

But consumer watchdog Which? warned that consumers would be left vulnerable to rip-offs and scams under the changes.

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: “This is a shockingly ill-conceived and under-resourced plan from the government that looks set to vandalise a system of consumer protection that is admired worldwide at a time when people most need protection.”

A new National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) will be responsible for targeting rogue traders, internet scams, illegal money lending and other crimes that go beyond local authority boundaries.