Best practice in engaging consumers
Engaging customers in their decision-making is now an essential part of the work of all Scottish public bodies. Consumer Focus Scotland wants councils, police and fire services, health boards and their partners to nominate examples of work they have carried out to engage consumers in developing and providing services which will be used to help share best practice and celebrate success.
Jennifer Wallace, Principal Policy Advocate for Consumer Focus Scotland, said: “We want to encourage the widest possible range of nominations from public services in Scotland to celebrate and share success in engaging consumers. So if you have completed a project or programme in the last two years that has successfully engaged consumers in decision-making please let us know about it so that we can spread the word.”
Best practice nominations can be made on our website and will be considered by an expert panel. Successful projects will be invited to take part in an event to discuss sharing best practice more widely across public service providers in Scotland. The projects will also be featured in a publication exploring best practice in consumer engagement. Submissions must be received by 14 June 2010.
Property management scheme consultation
Consumer Focus Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Government’s consultation on a new accreditation scheme for property management and land maintenance companies. To join the new scheme, property managers will be expected to show clear and transparent accounting and billing systems and to provide clear, written contracts and an explicit and robust complaints procedure.
Commenting on the consultation, Douglas Sinclair, Chair of Consumer Focus Scotland, said:
“We have campaigned for the establishment of an accreditation scheme for property managers for a number of years and welcome this consultation as a significant step forward. We believe that the scheme will assist owners in making informed choices about the property managers that they use, driving up standards in the industry.”
Backing for Legal Services Bill
Consumer Focus Scotland wrote to all MSPs before the April Stage One vote on the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill, to urge them to back it. The briefing we sent them highlighted our reasons for supporting the legislation and why we think it will benefit consumers of legal services. The bill was passed by 92 votes to 2 and will begin its Stage Two proceedings in June.
Cautious welcome for McKenzie Friends decision
Consumer Focus Scotland gave a cautious welcome to the news that the Lord President, Lord Hamilton, will lay down rules to govern the use of McKenzie Friends, and that their official introduction could come as soon as next month. The decision followed Stewart MacKenzie’s public petition to the Scottish Parliament calling for the the rules surrounding the use of the non-lawyer helpers to be clarified.
Sarah O’Neill, Head of Policy and Solicitor, Consumer Focus Scotland, said: “We hope that the introduction of rules governing the use of McKenzie Friends in the Court of Session will bring about much needed clarity for litigants, the court service and the judiciary alike. However, we have expressed concerns that the proposed rules remove the discretion of a judge to respond proportionately to requests for McKenzie Friends. We are therefore pleased that the new arrangements will be monitored to determine how effective they are.”
You can view Consumer Focus Scotland’s evidence to the Public Petitions Committee on our website.
healthyliving award annual ceremony
The annual award ceremony for the healthyliving award is being held at the Beardmore Hotel, Clydebank on 9 June. At the ceremony, almost 100 caterers will receive the healthyliving award and this represents a real boost in the healthy menu options available to consumers visiting these establishments. Also, due to the promotional and marketing criteria attached to the award, consumers benefit from an increased awareness of healthy living options in these outlets. For more information please visit our website.
Common Repair, Common Sense promoted
The campaign to promote Consumer Focus Scotland’s range of consumer guides concluded this month with Common Repair, Common Sense, a guide for homeowners to the management of tenement common repairs. Thousands of stakeholders were direct mailed to raise awareness of the guide and encourage them to pass the information on to clients who may benefit from it.
Water Saving Week 2010
Consumer Focus Scotland has signed up to support this year’s Water Saving Week which is taking place from 12-18 June 2010. Now in its second year, Water Saving Week supported by Defra seeks to raise awareness of the benefits of water saving at home, in businesses and in schools.
Trisha McAuley, Head of Services and Advocacy for Consumer Scotland said: “Water Saving Week is a great opportunity to raise consumer awareness about water efficiency and the impact that it can have on energy bills. We would urge consumers in Scotland to find out more about how they can save energy, money and be greener by becoming ‘water wise’ and using water more efficiently.”