New powers, new opportunities
Active consumers can drive growth in the economy, rewarding businesses which are innovative, efficient and fair. Whilst poor business practice is in the minority amongst Scottish businesses, if unchecked, it can undermine consumer confidence, impact the reputation of business as a whole and restrict growth. Sustainable growth, therefore, requires an environment that enables consumer trust and supports business to constantly improve and stay competitive.
Consumers in Scotland face many of the same challenges ascommunities across the UK and, in a global market, further afield. But Scotland does have distinctive characteristics, such as the proportion of our consumers living in rural or island communities. It is, therefore, important that the Scottish Government is able to bring together the efforts of all stakeholders, with a duty to protect consumers in Scotland, behind a set of shared outcomes.
In May 2016, some consumer and competition powers were devolved to the Scottish Parliament  . We now hold powers over:
- consumer advice, education and information, which enable consumers in Scotland to access publicly-funded help to understand and exercise their rights;
- consumer advocacy, which ensures that the consumer voice is heard by government, business, policy makers and regulators  across all areas of the Scottish economy;
- the power to act with the Secretary of State to request the Competition and Markets Authority to carry out a second stage market investigation  ; and
- decisions relating to the delivery of the Competition Appeals Tribunal.
This does not represent the full suite of consumer protection and competition powers originally sought by the Scottish Government - the UK Government retains responsibility for important aspects, such as consumer and competition law and its enforcement. However, while limited powers in some areas present a challenge, we are using those that we do have to the full, alongside our strong relationships with stakeholders, to find solutions to the key challenges faced by consumers across Scotland. In particular, we need to ensure consumers most at risk from poverty and harm are adequately protected.