Consumer Skills
29th March 2007


The Consumer Council today welcomed the Government’s review of Christmas savings schemes but acknowledges that there is much work still to be done. Today’s news is a positive and swift development for the 3,000 local people who lost more than £1.2 million when Farepak collapsed in October 2006.

Julie Megrath from the Consumer Council said: “The Farepak collapse was a bitter blow for thousands of Northern Ireland people left out of pocket and facing a bleak Christmas.  At that time, we made three commitments: firstly, that we would provide practical help for the people affected and secondly, that we would work with them to develop safer ways to save.  Thirdly, we also promised that we would make their views known, heard and count in the Government inquiry.

 “We are pleased to see that the report recommends that Christmas and other savings schemes create secure accounts for customers’ money.  We look forward to seeing how this industry-led scheme will work in practice.  Importantly, the report also made a commitment to improve awareness and information about savings schemes and financial services. 

“The Consumer Council met with Farepak agents and customers in March to hear their stories and ideas for safer ways to save.  We want to thank everyone who attended the meeting or who gave us their views.  Since then we have been actively working with financial institutions to lobby for the introduction of saving schemes that harness people’s desire to save but that protect their hard-earned money.  We are pleased that today’s announcement includes proposals to encourage providers to develop suitable savings products.

When it comes to managing our money, people here lag behind the rest of the UK.  In order to close that gap, the Consumer Council has already established the NI Financial Capability Partnership with the Financial Services Authority to bring together the public, private and voluntary sectors to educate people about managing their money.  More resources are needed to champion this issue.  The commitment from Government today to improve awareness and information about saving and managing money will be of real benefit to consumers, the economy and society as a whole.

  1. Consumer Council media contact: Susie Brown, telephone, 028 9067 4807 or e-mail,[email protected].  
  2. The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland’s consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about electricity, natural gas, coal and passenger transport.
  3. For more information, visit our website at