Over the last few years, there has been a growing concern about the safety and standard of electrical goods being sold online.
Back in June 2018, for example, Electrical Safety First found evidence of dangerous electrical goods for sale across a range of online marketplaces, including Amazon and eBay.
In September 2019, ITV’s This Morning found thousands of cheap and dangerous electrical goods for sale on online retailers. At the same time, consumer organisation Which? found that nearly three-quarters of cheap electrical devices it bought online and tested were unsafe.
The Government says that it is committed to ensuring that only safe products can be sold in the UK. Distributors, including those selling online, as well as manufacturers and importers, have legal responsibilities to ensure that they do not make unsafe equipment available on the market.
On 11 March 2021, the Government set out its review to strengthen product safety laws and ensure that they are fit for the 21st century. The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) announced a call for evidence from a wide range of views to help update the legal framework for product safety.
The call for evidence is open until 3 June 2021, and I would advise you to share your views as part of it, so that you can have a direct impact on the review.
It is vital that the Government sets out a clear plan for addressing the sale of dangerous goods online; it cannot simply be left to the online platforms themselves.
Enforcement will be required. It is therefore worrying that the Government has cut funding to frontline trading standards services by more than 50% in just over seven years. This will have contributed to unsafe electrical products and other consumer goods making their way into people’s homes.
I can assure you that I will continue to monitor this issue closely, and I eagerly await the results of the Government’s review.
Regardless of the outcome, I will be supporting a restoration of trading standards services and measures to ensure that we properly protect consumers when they buy products, including online.