Thursday, October 21, 2010

Consumer Focus Scotland will continue to make sure Scots consumers get a fair deal until Tory-Libdem axe falls in 2012

Consumer Focus Scotland logoConsumer Focus Scotland helped Scots consumers on many issues, including access to justice. CONSUMER FOCUS SCOTLAND staff have been told by their Chairman Douglas Sinclair, the organisation will continue to make sure Scots consumers get a fair deal in both private markets & public services until the Westminster coalition’s very anti-consumer decision to scrap the organisation takes effect sometime in 2012. I previously reported on the UK Government’s decision to scrap Consumer Focus & Consumer Focus Scotland HERE & HERE.

There is of course to be a “consultation” on the closure of Consumer Focus & Consumer Focus Scotland, details of which will follow in further reports, so there’s still time to try and save what is certainly a much needed voice for consumers all across the UK, and especially in Scotland.

Scots will also have a chance to voice their opinion at the ballot box next May 2011 on which Scottish political party is doing the most to protect Scots consumers, so use your vote wisely when the time comes, and make your voice heard against those who would strip us of much needed consumer protection, especially in these perilous times of financial hardship where a lack of consumer advocacy will assist those professions who seek to rip-off consumers when no one is around to do anything about it.

Douglas-SinclairConsumer Focus Scotland’s Chairman, Douglas Sinclair told his staff in a letter released to the media : I am writing to you in the light of the announcement last week that the UK Government has decided to transfer Consumer Focus’ functions to Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland. Subject to the approval of the UK Parliament, it is proposed that the work of Consumer Focus Scotland will transfer to Citizens Advice Scotland in 2012, and at that point, it is planned that Consumer Focus will be abolished.”

“As it is expected that the necessary legislative measures, if passed by the UK Parliament, will not take effect until sometime in 2012, we will continue our work in making sure that consumers get a fair deal in both private markets and public services. We will be issuing a draft work plan for 2011/12 and look forward to working with you to deliver more benefits for consumers.”

“We will be working with the Scottish Government to ensure the best future management arrangements for the Scottish Government funded national development projects – healthy living award, Community Food and Health (Scotland), Scottish Accessible Information Forum and Health Rights Information Scotland. We will also continue to work with the Scottish Government on the planned transfer of Waterwatch Scotland’s advocacy powers to find a solution that works effectively for consumers.”

“I am immensely proud of everything which Consumer Focus Scotland, formed by the merger of the Scottish Consumer Council, Energywatch and Postwatch, has achieved in the first two years of its life, and of the legacy of over thirty years of work by these bodies in bringing about real benefits for consumers in Scotland. Consumer Focus and Consumer Focus Scotland have achieved a huge amount for consumers. Earlier this month, Consumer Focus obtained a £70 million energy bill refund for consumers across the UK.”

Consumer Focus Scotland’s achievements have included:

* Establishing the Scotland-based Extra Help Unit to support vulnerable consumers across Great Britain with their energy and post complaints. Since beginning work, the Extra Help Unit has dealt with thousands of complaints and enquiries and obtained over £1.4 million in compensation for vulnerable consumers.

* Following years of campaigning and influencing work, helping to secure the passage of the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill which will widen choice for users of legal services and increase access to justice.

* Securing the inclusion of a new duty on scrutiny bodies to continuously improve user focus in the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act.

* Playing a key role in the establishment of the Post Office Challenge Fund for Scotland to support the development of Scotland’s post offices.

Considering some of their achievements, and their work as the former Scottish Consumer Council, they’ve done pretty well for us Scots, in many areas of consumer interest, particularly on issues relating to legal services, access to justice & regulation of the legal profession – my specialist areas of reporting. For what it costs to run Consumer Focus as an organisation, well, we’d be better saving it, than handing millions from the taxpayer over to those negligent bankers who have caused the cuts now facing public services & jobs in the UK.


Anonymous said...

I think the decision has been made so no chance of saving it.Just wait for people screaming for these services 5 years from now.It will be the same ones who did nothing when it was closed.

Anonymous said...

More successes listed there than the Tories!
No wonder they want to close them down!

Anonymous said...

I dont agree.I think there is time to save it so get off your behinds and write in to whoever it is you bothered voting for.

Anonymous said...

Ur!!!! We have won :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you are determined to save the consumer focus!

Anonymous said...

This is the kind of thing I try to teach people. Can I expect a sequel?

Anonymous said...

And just what valid experience can CAB bring to this area?

Oh I forgot experience is not essential, something learned from CAB Scotland's shortlived appointed of a Chief Executive with a dubious history as seen at;

Date: 01 April 2010

By Mark Smith

A FORMER college head who quit following an investigation into a £20 million funding shortfall has lasted just a week in his new high-profile job leading Scotland's Citizens Advice Bureau.
Howard McKenzie, who was principal of Jewel and Esk College, took up the £60,000-a-year position as chief executive of Edinburgh-based Citizens Advice Scotland (Cas) just seven days ago.

He resigned yesterday after Lord Mandelson's Department for
Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis), which funds Cas, confirmed it "did not choose to appoint him and were not in the position to accept him as accounting officer".

The 54-year-old resigned from his college job last April after an investigation into the massive funding shortfall. The college insisted the resignation and the investigation were not linked.

Earlier this month Cas announced the appointment of Mr McKenzie. As chief executive, his duties would have included handling government grants which make up a substantial proportion of the organisation's funding. However, the appointment has now been blocked by the Department for Business.

A spokesman said: "The accounting officer must ensure annual grant-in-aid given to Cas is used properly and for the purposes for which it is given.

"He or she will be accountable to Bis and parliament for that aid. In this particular case, the department felt it could not make the appointment."

Mr McKenzie had already been quoted on the Cas official website saying he was "absolutely thrilled to have been appointed".

Yesterday Mr McKenzie said that he would now be focusing on running his independent management and consultancy business, Howard McKenzie Scotland Ltd, which he set up in September.

He said: "I've picked up a lot of clients recently and I want to focus on them. The job with Cas had not been entirely finalised. I was being trained in the office this week, but had not signed a contract."

Director of Cas, Dominic Notarangelo, confirmed that Mr McKenzie had resigned from the CEO position.

He said: "We have received a letter of resignation from Howard. We will discuss appointing a new CEO next month."

As principal and chief executive of Jewel & Esk College, which has campuses in Edinburgh and Dalkeith, Mr McKenzie was involved in a £55m redevelopment of the institution.

The college's finances were the subject of concern and auditors were called in.

A draft report is understood to have identified a £20m funding shortfall, which was due to a proposed land deal being put on the back-burner.

Anonymous said...

Nick Clegg can be sure of one thing, his party will never receive another vote from me.

Politicians, Lawyers, doctors, accountants, the Lords, Law society, banks, all slip out of the net and the citizens pay psychologically and economically for the criminality of these filthy people. A democracy my ass.

If we are in this together Cameron, tell us what economic hardship you are facing?

Anonymous said...

If the culprits who caused this economic disaster do not hurt it will happen again.

Anonymous said...

It is the wild west element that scares some solicitors, and for proof they need look no further than the infamous This started life as a cry of frustration about one particular law firm from Rick Kordowski and has since developed into the dumping ground of anger for consumers aggrieved by their solicitors.

It has raised the hackles of some members of the legal profession – they complain that people can post their comments anonymously, YES BUT WHY SHOULD SOLICITORS BE ANGRY? LET US FACE IT LAWYERS COMPLAINTS ARE DEALT WITH ANONYMOUSLY BY THE LAW SOCIETY, THAT HUB OF COVER UP.

Anonymous said...

I've dealt with CAB in Glasgow.Total waste of effort although they did try to advise me in the end just to go to a lawyer!
Forget them being able to do any of this consumer stuff they are just not up to it

Anonymous said...

All good things come to those who wait.