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Preserve consumer protection and safety standards post-Brexit

Mar 2019 General | Comments Off on Preserve consumer protection and safety standards post-Brexit

Consumer safety standards must not be allowed to slip following the UK’s departure from the European Union, Electrical Safety First is warning.

The charity is urging the Government that, regardless of the outcome from the ongoing negotiations, consumer safety must be made a priority.

It says it is essential that current EU legislation surrounding safety standards on electrical goods as well as consumer protection rights continue to be mirrored into UK law to ensure all electrical items are safe, so that consumers are protected from the risk of substandard or counterfeit products.

Substandard and counterfeit electrical products pose a much greater risk to life compared to items such as fake clothing and carry with them the risk of electrocution and fire.

According to the European Commission, customs authorities across the EU seized an estimated five million more counterfeit items in 2015 than the previous year – a 15% increase on the number of intercepted goods compared to 2014.

It is likely the UK will need to take on much greater responsibility surrounding enforcement and checks of imports in order to assess compliance with new customs controls. To do so effectively, front-line enforcement bodies, such as trading standards, must be adequately resourced to take on this increase in responsibility. It is essential the UK does not become a priority destination for substandard or counterfeit products as a result of possible deregulation of safety standards.

The benefit to the economy through the use of enforcement bodies is clear as it is estimated the identification of some 1.2 million unsafe or non-compliant goods prevented approximately 500 fires, 1,000 major injuries and 2,000 minor injuries with a net benefit to England and Wales of almost £7m, according to the NTS Safety at Ports and Borders.

Latest figures from a National Trading Standards consumer harm report show that investment in our enforcement bodies provides a clear return on investment delivering £12.28 for every £1 spent.

Phil Buckle, chief executive of Electrical Safety First, commented: “No outcome from the ongoing EU-UK negotiations should be to the detriment of safety standards or consumer protection rights.

“The risks posed by substandard and counterfeit electrical products are a very real threat to consumer’s safety and one the Charity continues to highlight.”