UNISON has initiated a petition which calls on the government to ensure that trading standards are adequately funded, so that they can carry out their essential role of protecting the public from a wide range of threats: unsafe products; scams and rip-offs; loan sharks; counterfeiters; car-clockers; short measures; animal disease outbreaks; and wrongly labelled food.
Trading standards are relatively small compared with other council services but offer great value for money – for every £1 spent on the service consumers save £6.
Now local services are under threat from austerity cuts as councils cut their spending. Research by UNISON has shown that budgets for trading standards fell by 11% across Britain in the two years to 2011/12. The consequences of this are stark:
- a 29% fall in the number of prosecutions;
- a 26% fall in the number of inspections;
- a 24% fall in the number of enforcement visits.
UNISON fears that spending reductions on this scale are seriously affecting trading standards’ ability to protect the public and keep up with rogue traders. The long-term viability of the service is at risk. Trading standards services need public support, before further damage is done – please sign the petition today.
Last month trading standards reps from Hampshire helped UNISON have a successful presence at the Trading Standards Institute conference, where the union took part in a plenary discussion on how cuts are affecting trading standards’ capacity to protect the public and round up criminals. Below you can listen to a short interview from the conference with UNISON’s Helga Pile, about the union’s research into trading standards cuts.