Our core purpose is to champion and safeguard the interests of consumers in Northern Ireland. We are their trusted, independent voice. We achieve this by:
- providing expert, confidential advice
- investigating and resolving consumer complaints
- conducting independent research on consumer issues
- delivering consumer campaigns, outreach and education programmes
- advocating on behalf of Northern Ireland consumers here, across the UK and in Europe
- collaborating to influence citizen-centric public policy and regulation
- advising government on consumer choice, rights and protection
Our role, set out in law through the General Consumer Council (Northern Ireland) Order 1984, is to investigate complaints, carry out inquiries and research, promote and disseminate information, and make proposals to public authorities.
We have extensive statutory responsibilities in energy, transport, water and sewerage, post and food affordability and accessibility, drawn from various legislation, licences and memoranda of understanding. Our non-statutory responsibilities are to educate and empower consumers against unfair or discriminatory practices in any UK market, and deliver a range of projects including:
- access to cash and banking services
- financial exclusion and illegal money lending
- EU Exit, the Northern Ireland Protocol and the Windsor Framework
- home heating oil monitoring and service standards
- petrol and diesel price monitoring
- private parking charge notices
- online detriment
- food poverty
We have responsibilities under the Rural Needs Act 2016 and Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. Our aim is to ensure government policies recognise consumer needs in rural areas, and promote equality of opportunity and good relations across a range of equality categories.
We also can raise a super-complaint with a UK or Northern Ireland regulator if any feature, or features, of a UK market appears to be significantly harming consumers. Under the Gas and Electricity Licence Modification and Appeals Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015, we can appeal to the Competition and Markets Authority if we believe a modification by the Utility Regulator to the licence of a gas or electricity provider is detrimental to the interests of consumers.