Spending cuts and staffing reductions are ‘decimating’ council trading standards services, trade union Unison has warned.
The union said statistics published by the Department for Communities and Local Government showed that councils’ budgeted spend on trading standards services had fallen by more than a quarter in the three years between 2010/11 and 2013/14.
Unison said this represented a cut of £46m, which had led to a ‘dramatic fall in the number of test purchases being carried out to detect illegal sales of alcohol to minors’.
One trading standards officer in the south-east of England said: ‘Due to staffing cuts locally we are doing fewer test purchases year on year.
‘We’re worried that if we do less and less we lose the deterrent effect, which could undermine recent progress on reducing underage drinking in the UK.’
Helga Pile, of Unison, said: ‘Trading standards is a key council function that is being decimated by spending cuts and staffing reductions.’