CTSI has urged the Government to reconsider its draft funding settlement for local authorities, which the Institute says may lead to further cuts to an already depleted Trading Standards service, resulting in increased risks to local communities.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned that the funding settlement which is expected to be finalised in February next year could lead to a funding gap of £2bn over the next two years.
CTSI Chief Executive John Herriman said: “Local Authorities are already facing incredibly difficult spending decisions – any future shortfall could have a devastating impact. The current funding settlement, as the LGA has warned, could tip as many as one in five local authorities in England over the edge, and lead to cuts to much needed services, at a time when urgent investment is required.
“Trading Standards is one of the vital services which local authorities provide for their communities – we have seen over the last 12 months how vitally important our work is in areas such as tackling underage vaping, protecting consumers from unsafe products and tackling consumer detriment – last year Trading Standards tackled over £1.5bn of detriment. It is vitally important for the economic growth of local communities that business and consumer confidence is maintained – and Trading Standards is a critical part of this.
“As the professional body for Trading Standards we have been warning government about the serious risks to the public if the local services are diminished any further. If the UK was hit by another disease outbreak, such as foot-and-mouth, there would not be enough officers to contain the issue as they did in 2001. That outbreak cost the UK economy £8bn, you could easily increase that number by tenfold if there were not the skilled Trading Standards officers available to intervene quickly and efficiently.
“We would urge the Government to reconsider its draft settlement – otherwise there is a very real risk that the Local Authority Trading Standards service which is already teetering on the brink could collapse – with a devastating impact on local businesses, consumers and communities.”
The LGA’s latest survey findings indicate that one in five council leaders and chief executives in England think it is very or fairly likely their council will need to issue a Section 114 notice this year or next. The survey also found that half are not confident they will have enough funding to fulfil their legal duties next year (2024/25). This includes the delivery of statutory services.