CAB boosted as Consumer Focus closed

THE role of Citizens’ Advice will be expanded as Vince Cable’s government department shakes up the system of consumer protection.

Citizens Advice will take on responsibilities from the Office for Fair Trading (OFT) and play a greater role in speaking up for consumers in unregulated industries, the Department for Business said yesterday. It launched an advice line to replace Consumer Direct last week.

Consumer Focus will be axed and energy and postal services customers will be represented by the new technical Regulated Industries Unit.

The National Trading Standards Board will get an extra £10.5m and will work with trading standards officers to combat rogue traders and tackle internet scams, illegal money lending and other crimes that go beyond local authority boundaries.

Yesterday Norman Lamb, consumer affairs minister, said Citizens’ Advice would become the “publicly-funded voice of consumers, championing their needs and empowering them”.

Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive of consumer group Which? attacked the changes, however, as a “shockingly ill-conceived and under-resourced plan... that looks set to vandalise a system of consumer protection that is admired worldwide.”