10th September 2021

John’s Journal: A crucial moment

CTSI Chief Executive John Herriman discusses why the Government’s consultation on consumer protection is important for the trading standards profession.


By John Herriman
Chief Executive, CTSI
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I know it can be intensely frustrating to see the level of need and feel powerless to act in some situations, especially when we are driven by a strong sense of social purpose to protect the public

In the last edition of the Head Office Update, I mentioned that we had just received the UK Government’s consultation on consumer protection. Thank you for the feedback so far that is helping to shape our response; it is absolutely critical that we help inform the government’s perspective.

Our view is that the paper addresses some of the very important issues that are long overdue for discussion, although it does not look widely enough at the structural aspects of trading standards that are so critical to ensuring that consumers are protected. We will be highlighting that gap in our response as well as the need to take a more strategic perspective that looks at how all the different elements of the consumer protection ecosystem interact effectively in a coordinated way. All layers of that system are critical – the national, the regional and the local, and we also know that the national does not work without the local.

The system must work effectively because we know that there are increasing levels of consumer vulnerability as a result of the social and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, the changing nature of consumer vulnerability means we are all vulnerable at some point in our lives, either due to unfamiliarity with the purchase we might be making or because of personal circumstances. I know it can be intensely frustrating to see the level of need and feel powerless to act in some situations, especially when we are driven by a strong sense of social purpose to protect the public. 

 

Connected with this point, I wanted to mention that we are on the cusp of releasing the first-ever CTSI Consumer Confidence Survey. The survey, commissioned with YouGov, assesses consumer confidence in the marketplace and the consumer protection system itself. I wish I could share some of the findings with you right now, but believe me, there are some eye-opening results that the Government and regulating agencies will have to notice, and which we will discuss at our Symposium. 

 

This is a crucial moment for the trading standards profession. CTSI Symposium, 28-30 September at the Eastside Rooms, Birmingham, is our opportunity to celebrate the incredible achievements of trading standards professionals during the pandemic and make our case for the profession in the halls of government across the UK’s four nations. Over three days, we will explore themes about the role of trading standards in supporting consumer confidence and economic recovery, the changing nature of consumer vulnerability, the vision we have for the profession over the next decade, and the way we embrace innovation and diversity as a profession to ensure we are reflective of the communities we serve. 

 

The profession can’t continue going down the same path, and we must find our voice again to change the course to rise to the challenge of the rapidly evolving consumer ecosystem. Symposium – and this will be my first – will put wind in our sails, and I am looking forward to meeting and speaking with everyone who can attend. 

 

I enjoy getting your feedback, so do please feel free to contact me via: johnh-feedback@tsi.org.uk

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