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Staffs trading standards to oversee claim-chasers

The Department for Constitutional Affairs has chosen Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards unit to supervise the regulation of claim management companies nationwide.

Head of claims management regulation Mark Boleat says it is the first time that such a body has been picked by the Government for a regulatory role. He admits there is a risk factor in the arrangement but says SCCTS has proved itself at a local level and the arrangement will be watched closely to see if it can be used more generally within Government.

He will not reveal how much SCCTS will be paid but says the contract is for less than 1m. The DCA has allocated a budget of 750,000 for claim management regulation in 2006 and 2007.

Regulated firms will pay a minimum 400 initial fee and 400 a year, with bigger claim handlers paying considerably more.

Boleat says: “This model has never been done before and there is a risk factor as their experience is local rather than national. We will be watching to see how it works.”

Boleat says the DCA has to walk a tightrope of regulating aggressive firms without adding unneeded regulation to others.

He says worries that claim companies will be left unregulated if they focus on mortgage claims in areas other than product sales – such as exit fees, for example – will be looked at before final regulations are put before Parliament in October.

Boleat says that he does not expect to still be in his part-time position after a sear and says a civil servant could take on the role.


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