Laura Sharman 15 April 2019

Councils call for extra funding to stop UK being flooded with unsafe products

Council leaders have warned new national bodies are not the best way to protect the UK from unsafe products.

In response to research published today by Which?, the Local Government Association (LGA) said councils are best placed to ensure unsafe products are removed from shops.

Research by Which? found that Safety Gate, a European rapid warning system, issued 34% more alerts in 2018 compared to a decade ago.

The watchdog said the UK could face a ‘rising tide’ of unsafe toys, cars and white goods unless the consumer enforcement system is not reformed.

It warned that the UK may have to rely on its own system for identifying unsafe products following Brexit, and that the Government is already too reliant on overstretched local authority trading standards services

Caroline Normand, Which? director of advocacy, said: ‘If it is to make people’s safety the number one priority, the Government must secure access to the European alert and information sharing systems after Brexit, as well as introduce major domestic reforms to ensure consumers are properly protected from unsafe products.’

It is calling for the Government to establish the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) as an independent body.

However, the LGA said this was not the best approach to reforming trading standards.

A spokesperson said: ‘The answer to this problem is not to take funding, resources and expertise from councils to create new national bodies or to expand existing organisations, as these will lack the intelligence - and currently the powers - to take effective action at a local level to ensure unsafe products are off supermarket shelves and out of people’s homes.

’Instead, with the number of trading standards officers having more than halved since 2009 and budgets to this service having almost halved since 2011, government needs to use the forthcoming Spending Review to address the funding shortfall that councils’ face.'

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