EU Exit, COVID-19, a rapidly shifting consumer landscape and a surge in digital commerce… the past 12 months have been anything but standard for UK businesses.
Against this backdrop of unpredictability and rapid change, the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS) has continued to provide a source of stability and certainty. The scheme’s latest annual report demonstrates how it has helped consumers and businesses alike during a tumultuous year.
CCAS was launched by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) in 2013 as a means of promoting consumer interests by setting out the principles of effective customer service and protection.
As a form of ‘facilitated self-regulation’, it relies on members signing up to a code of practice established by a code sponsor; the code sponsors themselves are carefully selected and vetted by CTSI for their expertise.
CCAS aims to reduce consumer detriment and codes will only be approved if they can clearly demonstrate that they contribute to this objective.
CCAS Chair, Lord Lindsay, says: “It is clear that the significant events of 2020 will have ramifications for businesses and consumers in the months, and indeed years, to come. Therefore, ensuring consumer confidence in the modern marketplace will be crucial.
“The CCAS vision to ensure consumers are treated fairly and honestly across market sectors by businesses that are supported through a recognised self-regulatory framework, contributes to supporting and securing that confidence.”
When it comes to CCAS’s major achievements over the past year, the numbers speak for themselves. Highlights include:
- almost £2m compensation recovered for consumers via the complaints and dispute resolution mechanisms to which code members subscribe
- almost 80,000 code members taking part in CCAS across 23 different consumer codes in a variety of economic sectors
- 16% increase in business members joining CCAS since 2019
- more than £97bn consumer spending across code members
This is just the tip of the iceberg, however – each of the Code sponsors, and in turn, each of the CCAS members, makes a real difference. For example The Property Ombudsman, the largest Government-approved Ombudsman scheme for the property sector, dealt with 39,285 consumer queries and resolved more than 5,122 formal complaints in 2020.
Similarly another Code sponsor, the Renewable Energy Consumer Code, resolved 31 complex consumer disputes, recovered £6,185 for consumers through its mediation service and saw £21,875 awarded to consumers through its Independent Arbitration Service.
The list goes on – from disputes over car sales to issues with new-build homes, furniture removals, healthcare and home insulation, the CCAS and its code sponsors have provided invaluable support to consumers, which in turn gives businesses a knock-on boost.
“The CCAS is designed to reduce consumer detriment, for more transactions, by more consumers, in more circumstances,” says Lord Lindsay. “As we look to the future, and the challenges ahead, this will be more important than ever for businesses and for consumers.”
To read the report in full, click here.