Think more consumer, Scots watchdog tells regulators and companies

The Consumer Futures Unit (CFU) of Citizens Advice Scotland has called on regulators and utility providers to pay more heed to consumer principles as they set policy and deliver service.

In a report published last week, Leading by example: a principled journey through regulation, the CFU sets out the mechanisms that are used by 40 regulators and service providers in energy, water and post to develop consumer-focused policy and practice, and explores the potential for applying clear consumer principles to strengthen the design of regulation and business practices around consumers’ needs.

It said: “The CFU considers that more consumer- focused policy and practice will emerge if consumer principles are more widely understood and adopted by regulators and service providers. However, the CFU is also of the view that there is a general lack of awareness of consumer principles in the regulated industries, meaning that they are often not applied in the development of policy, or in the delivery of services. Additionally, consumer focused frameworks applied by regulators and service providers are not always transparent, in terms of their dealings with consumers, despite them all (almost universally) claiming to be consumer focused to one degree or another.”

The CFU said consumer focused policy and practice will emerge if consumer principles are more widely understood and adopted by regulators and service providers. The CFU has adopted seven consumer principles which test policy and practice from a consumer’s perspective in terms of how it looks and feels. It added: “The principles seek to move organisations from thinking about consumers, to thinking like consumers.”