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Consumer champion ‘could be scrapped’

 

The watchdog Consumer Focus could be axed as part of the Government’s drive to abolish the UK ’s quangos, according to recent reports.

 

The organisation, which was set up by the last Government to champion the rights of consumers, has a raft of legislative powers, including the right to investigate any consumer complaint if it is of wider interest.

 

It also has the ability to open up information from providers, the power to conduct research and the ability to make an official super-complaint about failing services.

 

However, there is growing speculation that the body will be scrapped, although the Government has refused to comment on the plans.

 

Earlier this month the Taxpayers’ Alliance wrote to the Business Secretary calling for the watchdog to be axed. ‘It's not representing consumers because it can't speak against Government,’ argued its director, Matthew Sinclair.

 

Yet Consumer Focus chief executive, Mike O'Connor, has defended the cost and value of the work carried out by the organisation.

 

‘We cost the taxpayer in our core grant about £6m a year. Just last week we won a return to consumers of over £70m from the energy companies. And three months ago through our super complaint we changed the ISA rules so savers will get an extra £15m a year,’ he said.

 

Recent press reports have also suggested that the Office of Fair Trading will be merged with the Competition Commission, while Citizens Advice may take over the activities currently carried out by Consumer Direct.