The Working Group identified the need for effective and consistent enforcement of consumer law - by local authority Trading Standards Services and other organisations which undertake enforcement activity.
The Working Group recognised that policy responsibility in this area will, in the main, continue to be reserved to the UK Government. However, enforcement activity is carried out by Scottish local authorities and there are some areas, such as food standards, where competence is already devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
The Working Group noted the need for a more strategic and consistent approach to enforcement activity, requiring greater collaboration at national and local level. In framing its recommendations, it took account of the fact that a series of Trading Standards reviews are currently underway.
In particular, the Working Group recommended work to ensure that Trading Standards Services in Scotland have the necessary capacity and expertise, and that current problems relating to succession planning and a current lack of training opportunities are addressed. It also recommended work to prioritise and co-ordinate enforcement activity and to improve links with other parts of the consumer protection landscape.
The Working Group recommended that Consumer Scotland should be responsible for raising awareness, amongst consumers and businesses, of Trading Standards Services in Scotland. It should also promote a more joined-up approach to consumer enforcement activity in Scotland, the adoption of common procedures, and adherence to best practice principles.
Scottish Government's response
The Scottish Government recognises the important role that enforcement activity plays in protecting consumers and businesses against rogue practices. We agree with the Working Group's assessment that improving co-ordination of enforcement activity in Scotland, and links with advice and redress providers, will enable enforcement bodies to act quickly when trends of consumer harm are identified.
The Working Group made its recommendations against the backdrop of considerable uncertainty in the enforcement landscape. The Working Group's report noted a number of challenges and that a series of Trading Standards reviews are currently underway to find solutions.
We recognise that the outcomes of these reviews will influence the delivery of enforcement activity in the future. We will continue to work collaboratively with UK Government and enforcement bodies as these reviews continue.
- In considering the possible form and functions of a dedicated consumer protection body, we will take account of the Working Group's recommendations for better integrating enforcement activity within the consumer landscape in Scotland.
- We will work with enforcement bodies, CTSI  , COSLA, SCOTSS  and TSS  on ensuring that Trading Standards Services in Scotland have the necessary capacity and expertise and that there is effective prioritisation and coordination of services.
- We will consider the outcomes of the various Trading Standards reviews and work with stakeholders on developing a more strategic approach to delivery.
- We will work with enforcement agencies, CTSI, COSLA, SCOTSS and TSS on development of a trading standards workforce and training strategy.
Email: Chris Park, firstname.lastname@example.org