On Wednesday 22nd February Checkatrade held a symposium in partnership with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute at The Venue in Edgbaston, Birmingham.
Under the banner Together we are Stronger, the event aimed to bring together stakeholders from across the UK consumer protection landscape to explore avenues of further cooperation. The symposium welcomed directors and senior managers of regulatory services, along with senior trading standard officers, portfolio holders, councillors and other interested parties to hear keynote speeches from eight prominent consumer protection figures, including:
- Checkatrade chairman and founder, Kevin Byrne
- Leon Livermore, chief executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute
- Professor Keith Brown, director of the National Centre for Post Qualifying Social Work and Professional Practice at Bournemouth University
- Paul McKay, service director for South Notts and Public Protection in Nottinghamshire
Checkatrade.com has already established nine successful partnership schemes with Trading Standards organisations across the UK, which have filled the diaries of trusted, qualified and vetted local tradespeople. The symposium sought to change attitudes among public bodies and get their buy-in in finding new and innovative ways to loosen procedures in the right places and make existing approval schemes more inclusive and more affordable for high quality tradespeople.
Checkatrade.com chairman and founder Kevin Byrne explains more, saying: “Our aim of the symposium is to bring more local authorities onboard. It’s great to see so many stakeholders come together in one place with one single view.
Protecting consumers, especially the elderly and the vulnerable, from rogue traders is of vital importance, so it’s amazing that so many people from all over the UK share the same value and want to work together towards that end.
Combining the intelligence of Trading Standards and the 19 years of award winning pioneering service from Checkatrade, there is before us probably the most significant opportunity this country has seen to date to protect residents from rogue traders.”
With the symposium highlighting issues impacting local authority trading standards and the difference working in partnership can make, more than 200 delegates were educated on a wide range of themes including:
- Supporting dementia patients
- Supporting scam victims
- Providing reputable care services and specialist tradespeople for home adaptation work
- Supporting SMEs and start-ups
- Intelligence gathering – consumer complaints, business data, vulnerable residents
- Protecting the environment – traders following good environmental practices
- Modern day slavery
Leon Livermore, chief executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, remarks: “We want to work closely with businesses and individual trades to bring them into the approval fold and to raise their standards. I think Checkatrade.com do that very, very well and they can get the word out there nationally much better than public sector bodies. Today has been a great opportunity to share best practice but, perhaps more importantly to change people’s thinking.”
Attendee Ian Hodgkinson, managing director of Hodgkinson Builders, says: “Although my organisation doesn’t fit into all Checkatrade’s categories, it’s important for our traders and apprentices to have been trained correctly and to have the right values. If we get it right culturally, UK consumers are the real winners. It’s been a great event and a definite plus to have been involved today. Kevin’s Checkatrade story is an inspiration and shows us why we should all work together to help householders.”
Delegates attended workshop sessions, asked questions of the experts and enjoyed a panel discussion exploring how, through partnership, Checkatrade can help support local authorities and make more of an impact in key areas of consumer protection.
As Checkatrade.com continues to partner up with Trading Standards authorities and other local and regional bodies, the sharing of intelligence will make life even more difficult for untrustworthy tradespeople. Checkatrade.com focus ever harder on new initiatives aimed at increasing that pressure and currently have a revolutionary new scheme in the pipeline.
Watch this space for a further announcement in 2017 that will put rogue traders even more on the back foot.