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Consumer watchdogs to be abolished

Consumer protection agencies' duties to be outsourced to charities and local Trading Standards offic

Some of the UK's major consumer protection agencies are reportedly being axed as part of the Coalition government's quango rationalisation plan including the Office of Fair Trading, Consumer Direct and Consumer Focus - which was established by the last government.

Business secretary Vince Cable is likely to make an announcement early this week on the closure of Consumer Focus, which was invested with a wide range of legislative powers to fine companies and act in the interest of consumer rights.

The activities of the quangos, will be handed over to Citizens Advice, a network of independent British charities and local Trading Standards offices, which will advice consumers and monitor energy and postal suppliers, according to the mandate received by Cable's team from cabinet minister Francis Maude.

As part of the spending cuts, other government departments could also be doing away with their own consumer bodies such as Passenger Focus under the Department for Transport, and the Consumer Council for Water of the Department of Environment.