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08th September 2008


At a time when worry and stress is growing among consumers faced with the soaring cost of living, the Consumer Council is urging consumers to go online and tell their real-life stories about the household pressures they are facing. The Consumer Council website now allows consumers to leave a comment, share money saving tips with others and take part in a cost of living survey.

Carol Edwards of the Consumer Council said: “We held open meetings in Belfast and Cookstown recently to get the personal stories behind the credit crunch headlines.  More than 150 people took part in the events and told us how they are already feeling the pinch and trying to manage as best they can.  People are already taking steps to change their lifestyle or behaviour by shopping around, budgeting, cutting down on waste or not eating out.  However, hard times are forcing households to make difficult decisions about what to cut back on as financial belts tighten. 

“With an average family having to find around an extra £60 per week for food, heating, fuel and mortgage[a] there is a real worry about the sheer scale of the problem we are facing. We want consumers across Northern Ireland to have their say on the pressure they’re under, discuss how they can help themselves and get their views on what others can do to support them at this time.

“Consumers will have to be resourceful and resilient in how they manage their budgets and make choices.  But they can’t face this challenge alone.  The Consumer Council is focused on identifying ways in which the Government and businesses can support them during this time.   We intend to present our findings and recommendations on actions needed to alleviate hardship and misery to the Government and business in the next few weeks to ensure that everything that can be done to help and support consumers is being done.”


  1. Consumer Council media contact: Gráinne Duffy, telephone, 028 9067 4813 or e-mail, 
  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 buses, trains, planes, ferries, natural gas, electricity, coal and water.
  3. For more information, visit our website at

[a] This scenario is based on a family of four (man working full time and woman working part time), capital value of house is £115,500 in Belfast, 100k mortgage coming off one  two year fixed rate mortgage in 2006 onto another in 2008, 75% loan to value as at 31 July 2006 = 5.01%, average 2 yr fixed rate 75% loan to value as at 31 July 2008 =6.36%, own a 50 litre petrol car and fill their tank once a fortnight, use two fills of oil (900 litres) per year. Electricity prices are taken from NIE’s Home Energy Tariff in August 2007 and August 2008. Income figures for 2008 are projected based on National Statistics Labour Market Average Earnings showing that average earnings (excluding bonuses)  rose by 3.7% (based on GB figure as no NI figure available) to end of June 2008. Oil figures are based on Consumer Council snapshot surveys of average oil prices based on 16 suppliers taken on 13 August 2007 and 23 suppliers taken on 26 Aug 2008; mortgage interest charges are from Financial Inclusion Centre for 31 July 2008; and rates from Land and Property Services Northern Ireland Aug 2008; Food prices are based on average NI spend on food from Family Spending Survey 2007 and research from on percentage price increase on 7 Aug 2008 of a basket of 24 staple food items. This model assumes that all other prices remain constant.