BSI’s Consumer & Public Interest Network (CPIN) was in Scotland’s capital
of Edinburgh in July to host a conference focusing on ‘Trust and Consumers’. It attracted consumer organizations and individual experts, regulators and ombudsmen, representatives from the Scottish government, BSI, trade associations and ANEC (the European voice of consumers in standards), all of whom are interested in improving consumer trust.
Our Chair for the day was Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of the Carnegie UK Trust. The Trust seeks to improve the lives and wellbeing of people throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland through influencing public policy and demonstrating innovative practice. Martyn was formerly the Director of the Scottish Consumer Council (SCC), Chief Executive Officer of Citizens Advice Scotland and also the Director of Shelter (Scottish Campaign for Homeless People) from 1987-1992.
Trust is clearly an issue that binds us all together in the consumer world at the present time, but it is a challenge to make some understand its value and the mutual benefits of good practice. That’s obviously where standards come in and CPIN’s purpose is to involve consumer experts, who represent ordinary people in the UK, in global standards for business.
In bringing our conference to Edinburgh, we wanted to recognise the importance of Scotland and give our members and other delegates the chance to hear the views of the major consumer protection organizations there. It was an opportunity to meet some new consumer colleagues, expand our horizons and get a different perspective. It turned out to be a good choice and highly topical, given everything that has happened around Brexit. Our last consumer conference - at the same venue in Edinburgh - was in 2003. Much has changed since then and consumer trust in big business in particular has obviously diminished dramatically.
A global poll this year, involving nine countries
and more than 18,000 people, revealed that
97 per cent of consumers don’t trust utilities
companies to keep their data safe from
cybercrime. It’s a good example of how little
trust consumers now have in businesses and
the top task for UK business remains the same:
to restore that trust. It’s an increasingly difficult
task, as supply chains become more and more
complex, involving many other businesses that
sometimes include a European or international
By far the biggest area of complaints, concerns
and major difficulty in the UK is that of financial
capability, so business needs to respond with
sustainable business practices, fair and
inclusive service for all customers, respect for
data privacy, and a better awareness of the
consequences of their behaviours on the
wellbeing of their customers.
In the first quarter of 2016 alone, of the half a
million cases dealt with in person by Citizens
Advice England & Wales, the majority were on
this subject and there were 1.3 million debt and
money page views online. There were 33% more
problems and enquiries related to financial
capability over the first quarter of 2016,
with ‘getting the best deals for energy’ and
‘budgeting and managing money’ coming
top of the list.
The picture is the same for Citizens Advice
Scotland, whose top five consumer issues across
the service are: Debt remedies, Card debts,
Housing arrears, Unsecured loans and Energy.
Join us at the Roxburghe Hotel, Edinburgh, to
discuss the societal challenges facing business
and all those involved in consumer protection,
from government, regulators and ombudsmen,
to standards organisations, trade associations
and consumer organizations.
Click here for all the presentations, videos and photos of the meeting.