Consumer Network for Scotland minutes: April 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the network on 27 April 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Neil Ritchie - Scottish Government (chair)
  • Andrew Bartlett - Advice Direct Scotland
  • Polly Tolley- CAS
  • Eva Groeneveld – CMA
  • Lucy Stone – CMA
  • Chris Bell CTSI Scottish Branch
  • Michelle McKenna – CTSI Scottish Branch
  • Frazer Scott - Energy Action Scotland
  • Harry Mayers - Energy Saving Trust
  • Mark Smith - FCA
  • James King – Ofcom
  • Jack Gaches – Ofcom
  • James Slater - Ofcom
  • Paul O’Brien – Ofgem
  • Sarah Chisnall – Ombudsman Services
  • David MacKenzie - Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland
  • Fiona Richardson - Trading Standards Scotland
  • Thomas Docherty - Which?
  • Carol Rice – BEIS
  • Jamie Macleod – Scottish Government
  • Wendy McCutcheon – Scottish Government
  • Andrew McConnell - Scottish Government (Secretariat)

Items and actions

1. Welcome and Introductions

The Chair welcomed the attendees, especially those attending for the first time. He mentioned that the public appointments process for the Board of Consumer Scotland had been completed and an announcement would be made after the election. He also explained that our social researcher, Jeremy Vincent, had left the Scottish Government and that a replacement would be appointed soon.

2. Round Up – follow up from written updates already circulated

There were no comments on the updates.

3. Ofcom update on parcel delivery research

Jack Gaches presented a summary of the findings on geographic variations in business to consumer parcel delivery services. A summary of the findings were reported in Ofcom’s 2019-20 Annual Monitoring Update for post. It found that the Scottish Highlands and Islands and Northern Ireland are most likely to be subject to higher delivery charges. Delivery restrictions are also most likely to occur in these locations.

Points discussed included:

  • how costs might change in light of increased online ordering
  • how costs are displayed during the online buying process
  • wider parcel issues for consumers such as non-delivery, damaged goods, vulnerable customers

4. CMA’s Internal Market Function

Lucy Stone explained the CMA’s new function relating to the internal market, which was derived from the Internal Market Act. Although the Office for the Internal Market is not yet operational, discussions are taking place with stakeholders. The OIM will provide advice and reports on request to governments and will also have a monitoring function in relation to the effectiveness of the internal market.

5. ADS - Energy Debt & Fuel Poverty: findings

Andrew Bartlett presented finding from ADS’s operation of the Scottish Government’s Winter Fuel Support Fund, which in March 2021 administered £875,579.27 in grant funding and energy vouchers to Scottish households at risk of disconnection or self-rationing their energy. Energy Debt is proving to be a significant issue for many Scottish consumers. A surprising and concerning finding was the high number of applicants to the fund who were registered as PAYG/prepayment meter customers.

Points discussed included:

  • although a large number of people have unaffordable heating debt it is difficult to make them engage with help providers
  • targeting help at the most needy should be considered
  • consumers can be referred on to the Extra Help Unit
  • illegal money lenders can exploit people with these debts so it important to explain that support is available for those in debt
  • many different sources of help are available but better co-ordination of that help would be beneficial.

6. Any Other Business

There was none.

7. Conclusions

The Chair thanked everyone for their time.

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