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Promoting Consumer Education

Trends, Policies and Good Practices

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Consumers today are challenged by growing amounts of information and wider choices of products, requiring them to develop skills and knowledge for making good choices in complex markets. This publication examines the approaches that governments use to promote consumer education in OECD and some non-OECD countries, highlighting the policies and measures that have been particularly effective. It also analyses recent trends, the role of stakeholders, steps being taken to evaluate the effectiveness of current programmes and the principal challenges.

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Analysis of Selected Countries: United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) plays the major role in consumer education. The OFT published its Consumer Education: A Strategy and Framework in 2004. Under this strategy, the OFT has for the first time statutory power to use consumer education as a tool. The strategy sets out the aim of giving “consumers the skills and knowledge to function confidently, effectively, and responsibly when buying goods and services” (OFT, 2004). However, the only current statutory reference to consumer education appears in the Enterprise Act 2006, Section 6, which confers upon the OFT discretionary power to publish educational materials or carry out other educational activities. The framework for the strategy was set up by the OFT. In concrete terms, the strategy’s objectives are to seek to identify: the skills and knowledge consumers need; instances where a lack of skills and knowledge leads to harm; and how skills can be developed and knowledge improved to meet identified gaps. 

English

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