Comment by: Alan Moss
Focus area: Chemicals
Regulator concerned: Trading Standards (Local Authority)
I work in food enforcement.
I think one of the problems is that some departments like to make businesses comply to a high standard whereas others do not have the resources to do so. As Trading Standards work to local boundaries, this can cause huge variances in compliance with the law. Clearly those businesses that comply with the law incur costs and hassle whereas those in areas with poor enforcement ‘get away with it’.
This is largely caused by cuts to TS departments and different officers having different views of what is acceptable. I take on board [TEXT DELETED] comment about discretion but too much discretion can cause huge variations in compliance.
Presumably the Government wants a high standard of compliance with the law – after all it is there to protect the consumer and is the law.
Clearly a business that wants to comply with the law is disadvantaged by the fact poor enforcement in other areas means competitors can reduce costs and gain a competitive advantage by not having to comply with the law.
It can also make an officers life very difficult when they are trying to advise a business which points out 10 competitors ignoring the law.
As there is no national Trading Standards agency I think more guidance needs to be issued by a central body that lays out certain standards that TS should be required to achieve amongst their businesses. But of course given budget cuts this may be impossible as it is almost certain many TS departments won’t be able to meet required standards due to resource issues.