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New product safety watchdog to be launched aimed at protecting consumers from faulty goods

There are between 4,300 and 5,000 fires a year involving faulty electrical appliances in England. Credit: AP

A new product safety watchdog is to be launched aimed at protecting consumers from faulty electrical goods.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards will manage responses to large scale product recalls and identify risks to consumers.

The body will also offer help to businesses hit by unfair competition from rogue firms.

The government announcement was triggered by last year's Grenfell Tower tragedy when 71 people died in a fire believed to have been started by a faulty Hotpoint fridge-freezer.

Some 676 fires in England were caused by tumble dryers in 2015/16 leading to 46 injuries and deaths.

Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said: "The new Office for Product Safety and Standards will strengthen the UK's already tough product safety regime and will allow consumers to continue to buy, secure in the knowledge there is an effective system in place if products need to be repaired or replaced."

A family was left homeless after an Indesit tumble dryer in 2016. Credit: Chelsea Garnham

Simon Blackburn, chairman of the Local Government Association's Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: "The LGA is pleased that its call for more support from government for local trading standards teams around product safety has been answered.

"Today's announcement is a positive step towards making sure that those teams are able to protect our residents from faulty electrical equipment, such as tumble dryers or fridge freezers, which can cause fires which can destroy life and devastate property."

Alex Neill of consumer group Which? said: "The government has finally accepted that the UK's product safety system needs to be fixed, but this action falls short of the full overhaul it so desperately needs.

"Consumers need an independent national body which has real powers to protect them and get dangerous products out of their homes. Failure to do so continues the risk of further tragic consequences."