The Department promotes and provides some funding to the following organisations.
BIS is responsible for promoting and sponsoring the work of the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) service through its funding of Citizens Advice in England and Wales and Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) in Scotland. Citizens Advice Northern Ireland is an independent organisation.
Citizens Advice, and CAS, set standards for advice giving, provide central training, offer merger support services, run an information system and co-ordinate policy work for all Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales, and in Scotland, respectively.
You can find the location and contact details of you local Citizens Advice Bureau via a telephone book or directory or from the Citizens Advice web site.
In July 2006 the Department carried out a zero-based review of Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland. This looked at whether the current way in which CitA and CAS operate will meet the needs of the future, including both the needs of the citizens advice service and their funders. It also explored the scope for improved effectiveness and efficiency, and whether the organisations provide good value for money. The study was carried out by Dr Bob Dobbie. His report can be downloaded on the right.
The Department also commissioned a study of how advice on consumer and social issues is provided in other countries - France, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden - to see how they compared to the way that advice is provided in the UK. The study was carried out by Lisa Webley, Westminster University and their report is listed on the right.
The Hearing Aid Council (HAC) is one of the Department’s non-departmental public bodies. HAC is mainly funded by subscriptions from registered dispensers and their employers. HAC is primarily concerned with the regulation of people involved in the dispensing of hearing aids in the private sector by:
• maintaining a register of qualified dispensers;
• encouraging high standards in professional practice though its examination and qualification system and code of practice;
• taking up complaints on behalf of consumers.
Minister for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs, Ian McCartney has announced the re-appointment of Christopher Hughes as Chair of the Hearing Aid Council (HAC).
Mr Hughes has been chair since September 2003 and his re-appointment will run from 1 September 2006 till 31 August 2009. The post of HAC Chair requires a commitment of up to 50 days a year and carries an attendance fee of £189.50 per day.
For further information on the Hearing Aid Council visit the HAC web site.
Consumer Focus was formed through the merger of the National Consumer Council, energywatch and Postwatch. The new body will be a more powerful consumer champion, with much stronger powers than its predecessors - including the ability to demand information from companies.
• Energy and post companies will have to take greater responsibility for resolving complaints. The regulators, Ofgem and Postcomm, will fine companies who fail to meet tough new standards.
• If companies and consumers can’t reach agreement on complaints, a new independent ombudsman will step in. The ombudsman will be free for consumers. Unlike energywatch and Postwatch, the redress schemes have the legal power to enforce resolution and provide compensation for consumers where appropriate.
For further information visit the Consumer Focus web site.