Trading Standards Service Plan 2022 to 2023
Trading Standards has to face the challenge of operating effectively in light of an evolving regulatory landscape and growing demands for service. Some of the main challenges are summarised below:
There is a range of new legislation coming into force over the next year which will impact on the work of Trading Standards, including:
- new age restrictions in place to safeguard children under the age of 18, from the potential health risks associated with the sale and use of botulinum toxins (Botox) and cosmetic fillers
- new regulations which require qualifying businesses selling food for immediate consumption, either in a café, restaurant, other catering establishment or as take away food, to provide information relating to the energy content of the food they sell to consumers in kilocalories ("calorie information")
- from October 2022, new regulations will prohibit the sale of certain foods deemed to be high in fat, sugar or salt from within particular prominent locations within specified food businesses and online marketplaces.
Trading Standards Advice Service
The service has its own Trading Standards Advisor. In line with new flexible working arrangements, the Advisor has been working from home, providing consumer advice over the telephone and via email. These arrangements have worked well and continue to be reviewed regularly and monitored alongside feedback from on-going customer satisfaction surveys.
An ageing population means that there are more residents vulnerable to rogue traders and mass marketing scams. To raise awareness of these issues, the Service has signed a partnership agreement with the National Scams Team to identify and support victims in Stockton-on-Tees and will continue to introduce No Cold Calling Zones in suitable locations throughout the Borough.
The Service no longer has its own in-house Accredited Financial Investigator (AFI). However, in certain cases, it is important that action is taken to restrain and/or confiscate the assets of offenders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. As a result, available AFIs from other local authorities and regulatory partners will be commissioned to undertake such work, as and when it is needed.
The UK formally left the EU on 31 January 2020 and a new agreement was finally struck in December 2020, containing new rules on how the UK and EU would live, work and trade together. However, the story is far from over and with differences emerging regarding the terms covering Northern Ireland, the new arrangements are under severe strain. This is likely to have a knock-on effect on the rules governing the movement of goods and services to and from the EU. For many of these products, it is frontline Trading Standards Officers that will have to unpick the uncertainties, advise businesses, and make sure that the regulatory and legal frameworks are operating effectively.