6. The Consumer Duty
The Consumer Scotland Act 2020 requires that a relevant public authority must, when making decisions of a strategic nature about how to exercise its functions, have regard to the impact of those decisions on consumers in Scotland, and the desirability of reducing harm to them.
The main aims of the Consumer Duty are:
- To embed the consumer perspective into strategic decision making processes across the public sector, in order to deliver better policy outcomes for Scotland.
- To challenge relevant public authorities to be more robust and methodical in their evaluation of the impact of strategic decisions on consumer groups;
- To steer relevant public authorities towards a solution orientated approach to managing the risk of consumer detriment where identified;
- To encourage relevant public authorities to be proactive in their engagement and consideration of consumer behaviour as a driver to achieve policy objectives.
This greater focus on consumers could benefit public authorities by leading to creation of better policies that people relate to, ultimately inspiring a greater level of trust in public bodies as they bring consumers along as part of the journey. It may be the case that initial consumer detriment is not the only consideration, but what the wider outcomes of the policy could achieve.
This means identifying how consumer attitudes and behaviours will affect the success of policies and taking appropriate action. Meaningful consideration of, and engagement with, consumers and their representatives will help to spot opportunities to innovate, deliver value for public money and boost trust in public bodies.