By Claire West
The Government has today announced that Consumer Focus, the consumer watchdog, is to be axed. The responsibility for overseeing energy will be consulted on early next year and may potentially fall to Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland.
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service, comments: “It is vital that the Government does not throw the baby out with the bathwater and continues to champion the consumer cause. Consumer Focus has played a critical role in providing consumer advocacy and support and has been a vocal champion for the rights of Britain’s energy customers. Its hard work and the advances that have been made in consumer protection must not be allowed to go to waste. The hard economic lessons of the last few years show that the need for educated and empowered consumers in this country has never been greater, and this is especially true in the complicated energy market.
“There is still a lot of work that needs to be done. The energy market remains a minefield for many and is going to get more complicated rather than less. With the Government’s Green Deal on its way and suppliers increasingly incorporating energy efficiency into tariffs, consumers will need even more support in understanding the market and making the right choices. With all this going on I would urge Consumer Focus’ successor, when named, to roll up its sleeves and get down to business very quickly if consumers are going to continue to enjoy the protection they currently have.”