Consumer Skills
admin
02nd February 2006

AVOIDING DEBT THROUGH EDUCATION

<p>Education is vital in managing money wisely and avoiding problem debt said Jeff Rooker, Minister at the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM).</p>

He was speaking at a conference organised by the Consumer Council to raise awareness of financial education initiatives.

The Minister said: “Today's conference is timely.  January and February are traditionally difficult months for people who have overspent at Christmas with many struggling to meet the repayments on loans, store cards and credit cards.

“In order to avoid this type of debt, there is a real need to ensure that individuals and families, especially those on low incomes, are given all the advice and help they need to manage their finances all year round.” 

Today's event, one of a number being held across the United Kingdom, highlighted a number of government education initiatives designed to raise financial awareness.

The Minister continued: “Education is central in our approach to reducing problem debt. The Department of Education is currently adapting the mathematics curriculum to introduce financial planning and decision making, ensuring that our young people are developing real world financial skills.”

Steve Costello, Chairman of the Consumer Council said: “Increasingly, consumers are asked to cope with complex financial issues such as mortgages, credit and loans.  That's hard enough for any of us to do but it's even more difficult for those who are already strapped for cash.  Being financially capable is becoming increasingly important for all consumers. Improving financial awareness and giving consumers the confidence, skills and knowledge to make financial decisions and manage their money will make a significant difference to their everyday lives.”

During the event the Minister also launched the Government's recent in depth report into the problem of debt, entitled 'Personal Over-indebtedness in Northern Ireland'.

The Minister said: “This report provides important information on financial hardship and will assist Government and others to develop measures aimed at tackling these problems.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1.      'Your Money And Your Life' was organised by the Consumer Council and sponsored by the Central Anti-Poverty Unit in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

2.      Consumer Council media contact: Susie Brown, telephone 028 9067 4807 or 07776 198226.

3.      The FSA is an independent non-government body with statutory powers under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. See http://www.fsa.gov.uk/

4.      The UK Financial Capability Strategy aims to help people acquire knowledge and skills which will enable them to make confident and informed financial decisions through access to advice and provision of financial education. A number of working groups have been established for the seven priority areas covered by the strategy which are schools, young adults, work, families, retirement, borrowing and advice. The Consumer Council represents Northern Ireland on the Schools Working Group.

5.      The research report 'Personal Over-indebtedness in Northern Ireland' is available at www.research.ofmdfmni.gov.uk

An announcement will be made soon on Governments priorities for tackling poverty and social exclusion in Northern Ireland. Contact [Press Office OFMDFM? or ] Pauline Millar Head of the Central Anti-Poverty Unit, Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. Telephone Belfast 028 9052 3193 or at [email protected]