The direct marketing industry has escaped the political turmoil sparked by last week’s General Election result after it was confirmed that digital minister Matt Hancock will keep his role in Theresa May’s new cabinet, raising hopes that rogue telemarketing directors will finally get nailed.
When he was appointed last August, there had been fears that the industry had lost an ally when Baroness Neville-Rolfe switched to a different role.
However, Minister of State for Digital & Culture Hancock proved to be an “industry champion”, defending direct marketing while other MPs branded the sector “the lowest of the low”.
Hancock also sanctioned the switch of the Telephone Preference Service from Ofcom to the Information Commissioner’s Office, in a move designed to enable quicker handling of complaints about so-called nuisance calls.
One of the first issues which Hancock will be urged to address is the resurrection of the Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors) Bill 2016-17, which was dropped in the run up to the election, despite a pledge to introduce the legislation “in early spring”.
Under the legislation, directors of rogue telemarketing companies would be personally liable for fines of up to £500,000 from the ICO.
In recent months, Media Tactics, which was fined £270,000 by the ICO in March as well as Keurboom Communications which was fined a record £400,000, have both gone bust, meaning their directors have got off virtually scot free.
It is understood that only four of the 25 fines issued by the ICO since it received new powers to crack down on rogue telemarketers in 2015 have actually been paid.
In stark contrast, the charity sector is facing uncertainty after Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson lost his seat in the election. Not that everyone in the industry was concerned. Joe Saxton, co-founder of the consultancy nfpSynergy, tweeted: “So whatever else from the election we will have a new charities minister as Rob Wilson lost his seat. Not going to be missed by me!”
Wilson’s successor has yet to be announced.
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