Consumer Focus Wales

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:49 pm on 14th September 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 4:49 pm, 14th September 2011

I must end my remarks, I am afraid.

That will be in no way affected by local pressures. Most funding for the national work comes either from levies or from the taxpayer; a lot of the local funding comes from local government. They are two connected organisations, and the strength is in their connection.

Citizens Advice, the national organisation, gets information fed up from the grassroots all the time. That is one reason why the brand is so trusted and why the organisation has a special, and perhaps unique, role to play in our country. Citizens Advice has local representation through its bureaux in communities. Although those bureaux will not be conducting research, they will be able to feed into the analysis. That is particularly important for the most vulnerable in our society. It is another reason why I think that our model has a lot of strengths.

I emphasise that Citizens Advice has an excellent track record of advocacy on behalf of consumers at a national and local level. We want to build on that track record and the brand awareness that it enjoys and direct resources for consumer education, information, policy and advice to Citizens Advice. We also want to bring together local, bottom-up information with the national research and expertise currently carried out by Consumer Focus, which is, as we have heard, of extremely high quality. That will create a powerful consumer body to which businesses will have to listen.

We do not intend to lose the experience and expertise held at Consumer Focus. Instead, we want to bring together its policy and research expertise, especially in the energy and postal services sectors, with the long-standing success of Citizens Advice and its bureaux in helping consumers. By operating in that way, we can connect consumer policy and research functions with the concerns and problems of citizens in their communities. There are benefits to be realised by making that connection.

We remain committed to working with all, including those across Wales, to make it a reality.

Question put and agreed to.

Sitting adjourned.