Research and Analytics
CIPFA Trading Standards Statistics
Returns were received from 93% of local authorities in England and Wales, and for the first time data were collected from Scotland. Overall the response rate for Great Britain was 89%. In order to reduce the burden of data collection, figures relating to expenditure and staffing will replace that previously required in the Service Delivery Plan in the National Performance Framework for 2003, in collaboration with the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI).
In order to allow more meaningful comparisons to be made, class and regional totals have been 'grossed' to take account of missing data and non-response. For England and Wales this has been effected by referring to information returned by authorities to last year's Trading Standards Survey. Where a return has not been received from an authority the total will be derived by attributing the same level of increase among the class average for responders, to the information observed by the authority in the previous year. Where this figure is also missing, then the totals and distribution are scaled to the per capita class average.
For missing data in Scotland the totals and distribution have been scaled against staff and activity figures represented in the Audit Scotland report 'Made to Measure? Trading Standards Services in Scotland' (October 2002). Where this has not been possible the per capita class average has been used. Users of the statistics for Scotland should be aware that responses were received from 22 out of 32 authorities in the first year of the survey. It is anticipated that with systems established this year, the 2004 survey response should be nearer 100%. CIPFA is grateful for the assistance of Trading Standards in Scotland (SCOTTS) in this area.
It should be noted that the range of functions carried out within Trading Standards departments varies between authorities, with functions such as waste regulation and public analyst being included in this department in some, but by no means all, authorities. There are also certain aspects of the service which may be under the control of other departments or external agencies. For example, animal health, which may be under the control of the Land Agent or Public Health Department. This will distort comparisons between individual authorities. This is particularly the case in terms of actions taken for services in Scotland if making comparisons with England and Wales. A full definition of Trading Standards Services is provided on page 8.
Spending on Trading Standards Services
In 2003-04 local authorities in England and Wales are expecting to spend a total of over £175m on the provision of the Trading Standards Service, with income of over £15m anticipated from grants, fees and charges for services such as weights and measurestesting. In Scotland the estimated spend in 2003-04 is around £22m with income of just over £750k. Net Expenditure on the Service shows a 7.2% increase over 2002-03 in England and Wales, and 7.9% in Great Britain. Over the same period the RPI was 3.1%. Table 1 compares net expenditure over the past five years (including capital charges).
The majority of total expenditure is spent on core functions i.e. metrology; quality; safety; fair trading; additional and procedural legislation and civil legislation. Core functions seen in terms of staff costs and third party payments for sampling testing and analyses account for 74% of gross expenditure across Great Britain. The remaining costs comprise transport and premises related costs, support services and capital charges. A full subjective financial breakdown is shown in Summary Tables A and B (pages 6 and 7).
Table 2a continues the trend observed in 2002-03 that net expenditure in Metropolitan Districts is significantly lower than in the rest of Great Britain. Around the English Regions, the highest expenditure occurs across the East Midlands, followed by the West Midlands and the North East. The lowest spending region, Yorkshire and Humberside, spends £1,152 less on the service per 1,000 head of population than the East Midlands.
The higher than average expenditure in Wales and Scotland may reflect the large rural areas and the relatively low population density. The situation is also seen in those English Counties of a similar nature where expenditure per head of population is relatively high. As a regulatory service, Trading Standards obviously depends on a certain level of physical visits and staff time. This is illustrated in Figure 1 below which shows the spread of per capita expenditure across each class of authority.
The Trading Standards Service is particularly labour intensive, 69% of gross costs are employee expenses. A total of 4,469 FTE staff were expected to be employed by services at 1st April 2003, an increase of 4.2% over 2002. There is general concern about the numbers of Trading Standards Officers (TSOs) in Britain which is reflected in figures from responding authorities (i.e excluding 'grossed' data). They show that the number of qualified TSOs has fallen by 1.0% (just over 13 FTEs). The number of Trainee Trading Standards Officers has fallen by 2 FTEs to 130 at 1st April 2003.
Premises by Risk
Table 4 and Figures A to F provide details of the proportion of trading premises in high, medium and low risk categories and compares the average for each class of authority with upper and lower quartiles.
Table 5 puts into context the relationship between the number of Risk Premises and the resources in place to meet those demands in terms of staff numbers. The ratios are ranked in Figure 2 with Greater London showing the highest number of premises per staff, and Scotland showing the lowest.
Table 6 below shows the percentage of Premises in each Risk category that received at least one primary visit during 2002-03. Not surprisingly High Risk premises are in receipt of most visits with Metropolitan Districts in particular well above the national average. In the regions the East of England appears to fall well below the national average for both High and Medium Risk premises.
Table 7 summarises workload throughout 2002-03, including actions taken. These additional factors should be taken into account when observing relative performance or cost efficiency. For example East of England, showing a below average percentage of visits per risk premises, has the second highest ratio of trading premises to staff (see Figure 2).
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