Consumer Scotland, the new statutory and independent body for consumers in Scotland, has launched today.
The body, set up under the Consumer Scotland Act 2020, is independent from government and accountable to the Scottish Parliament.
Consumer Scotland will use data and analysis to prepare expert reports on key issues facing consumers. These reports will include recommendations to government on how to tackle them.
The body will engage with businesses, consumer, regulatory and enforcement bodies, the public sector and government at Scottish, UK and local level to ensure consumer rights and interests are at the heart of markets, services and policy development.
Its remit will include consumers in vulnerable circumstances and putting consumers at the heart of the transition to Net Zero.
The body’s initial focus will be on the key sectors of energy, water and postal services and the impact of the cost of living crisis as set out in its newly-published Workplan for Energy, Post and Water. Projects include improving fairness in the energy market and enabling greater choice in the parcels market.
The body is developing its strategy for the medium to longer term through its Interim Strategic Plan, also published today. Consumer Scotland will build its capacity over the coming months and publish its Strategic Plan next Spring.
Consumer Scotland has the power to conduct statutory investigations into the most serious issues of consumer harm in Scotland.
The body stands ready to support the implementation of the new Consumer Duty on public bodies introduced under the 2020 Act
Chair of Consumer Scotland David Wilson said:
“The current economic climate has led to significant challenges for consumers and the time is right for Scotland to have a statutory organisation with the interests of consumers at its heart.
“The rights of consumers are protected by many organisations across the UK and we will work collaboratively alongside these organisations as we analyse the key issues affecting consumers and make recommendations to ensure they get a better deal.
“I’m grateful to the many people who have played a role in conceiving and creating the organisation, including the Scottish Government and Citizens Advice Scotland.”
Newly-appointed Chief Executive of Consumer Scotland Sam Ghibaldan, who helped set up the organisation as its programme director, added:
“This is a vital role at a time when consumers are facing the huge challenges of the cost-of-living crisis and the transition to Net Zero.
“Consumers are increasingly asking for change and our job is to make sure they’re heard. Consumer Scotland will use evidence to influence change across the public and private sectors, improving consumers’ lives, and benefiting the economy.”
The body’s remit, set out in the 2020 Act, includes reducing harm to consumers, increasing consumer confidence and increasing the extent to which consumer matters are considered by public authorities. Its remit also includes advancing inclusion, fairness and prosperity.
Throughout its work Consumer Scotland will collaborate with the wide range of existing consumer advice, regulatory and enforcement bodies across the UK. An important part of Consumer Scotland’s role is to understand the experiences and aspirations of Scottish consumers across both public and private sectors.
Notes to Editors
Consumer Scotland is the statutory body designed to promote the collective interests of consumers in Scotland. As an independent body, Consumer Scotland will work with policymakers and key organisations to put consumer rights and interests at the heart of markets and services.
Established by the Consumer Scotland Act 2020, the body came into being in April 2022. When fully operational it will have around 30 members of staff.
Consumer Scotland has core funding from the Scottish Government, and from consumer levy arrangements for water, gas and electricity. It has a total budget of £3.7 million in 2022-23.
Consumer Scotland represents the collective interests of consumers. It is not able to investigate individual cases. Scotland is well-served by organisations that fulfil this function such as Citizens Advice Scotland, Advice Direct Scotland, Ombudsman and Trading Standards Scotland.
The Consumer Scotland Act 2020 introduced the Consumer Duty which 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.