Wayne Mackay, of Electrical Safety First, has responded to the publication of the Scottish government’s new Consumer Scotland Bill.
We warmly welcome the Scottish government’s decision to establish a new consumer advice and advocacy body. While many of Scotland’s issues are shared with the rest of the UK, there are country-specific issues, such as a higher proportion of people living in rural areas, which might well increase the number of people in Scotland shopping online.
Our research has indicated a particular issue with the sale of counterfeits and sub-standard electrical items bought online, with one in five Scottish residents (1 million people) having purchased a fake electrical product that was advertised as genuine. This is a real concern, as counterfeit electrical items can often be sub-standard and – unlike a fake designer dress or handbag – can not only cause fires but also maims and kill.
As Consumer Scotland will be an investigatory body, as much as an advocacy one, we would like to see it prioritise investigations into key product safety issues – particularly white goods and online counterfeits. We know that in Scotland, in just one year, there were six fires a week caused by white goods, such as dishwashers and tumble-dryers. After the tragic Grenfell fire – where the initial cause of ignition was a fridge-freezer – and Westminster’s unprecedented recall of Whirlpool tumbledryers, concerns around the safety of white goods has understandably increased.
The Scottish government has committed Consumer Scotland to working in partnership with a range of organisations to protect consumers. So we hope it will take advantage of both our technical expertise and safety campaigning credentials to enhance the work and effectiveness of this new body.