This Bill was introduced to Parliament on 16 November 2006 and legislates in three areas, consumer voice, estate agents and doorstep selling. The main points are detailed below.
- The consumer watchdogs the National Consumer Council, Energywatch and Postwatch would be merged.
- Suppliers and service providers in the energy and postal services sectors would be required to join redress schemes. Plans for water service providers will be subject to consultation in 2008.
- Enable regulators in the energy and postal services sectors to make regulations to prescribe complaint handling standards which will be binding on suppliers.
- Extend Consumer Direct to cover enquiries and simple complaints from customers in the gas, electricity and postal services sectors to provide a simpler line of communication between a complainant in the regulated sectors and a single consumer advice service.
- All estate agents would be required to join the redress scheme operated by the Ombudsman for Estate Agents by 2008, this will determine disputes between estate agents and buyers and sellers of residential property. The scheme is currently voluntary.
- Tighten of the regulation of estate agents by requiring them to keep records of transactions for six years, and allowing Trading Standards to inspect those records.
- Greater freedom for the Office of Fair Trading to take regulatory action against estate agents.
- To extend to solicited visits the same "cooling off" period which is currently in places for unsolicited visits to the home.