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Plans set to give consumers a stronger voice

Consumer minister Ian McCartney has announced plans to boost consumer representation and provide people with a single point of contact for dealing with consumer issues.

The new organisation, Consumer Voice, would pull together the National Consumer Council, energywatch and Postwatch, into a single body, which McCartney said would be a ‘powerful and effective advocate’ for consumers.

The announcement marks the Government's response to its consultation exercise, which sought views on proposals to strengthen and streamline consumer advocacy.

The new structure for consumer representation and redress, designed in the light of responses to the consultation, would:

  • provide a stronger, more coherent consumer advocacy body, able to address consumer issues across different sectors, with the responsibility and authority to voice the concerns of all UK consumers;

  • extend the availability of redress schemes to resolve complaints where service providers have not been able to do so, and award compensation to consumers where warranted; and

  • extend Consumer Direct, the existing consumer advice service, to cover enquiries from the utility sectors.

    McCartney said the plans would empower consumers: "Today's announcement promises a stronger voice for consumers. We want to give people an effective system of representation and redress that is easily accessible and offers the best possible all round protection. In the end this is about getting people a better deal for their money and protecting them from being ripped off.

    "We are committed to taking forward work to make this happen without delay. Legislation will be required to deliver the new model for consumer representation and redress, and we intend to bring this before Parliament as soon as possible."

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