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Consumer education in the UK : new developments in policy, strategy and implementation

Blackwell Publishing
Publication Date
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Political Science


Consumer education is an integral part of the European Community's consumer policy. It plays a key role in consumer empowerment, helping consumers gain the skills, attitudes and knowledge they need to be able to gear the choices they make as consumers to their economic interests and to protect their health and safety. In its policy statement, the Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection states that the European Community is aware that joint measures at national and Community levels should be more structured, in order to achieve maximum effectiveness. This paper aims to set out the current policy and strategic context for consumer education and empowerment in the UK; review the role of UK government bodies and other agencies concerned with developments; review recent literature; present the results of interviews with an extensive range of key stakeholders and the results of a survey of service heads for trading standards throughout the UK. It will consider implementation, partnership, resources, ideas and opportunities. The research found that the agenda for consumer education in the UK is at an interesting stage of development. The Enterprise Act 2002 gives the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) a statutory power to carry out educational activities. Consumer education is also moving up the agenda in the trading standards service. In addition, the teaching of citizenship in English schools is already stimulating new developments in consumer education. The paper will consider the need for organizations like these to work together to build on these policy developments and ensure that consumer education gains the profile it needs to influence consumer attitudes and behaviour.

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