Consumer Skills
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28th November 2006

FINANCIAL INCLUSION GAP MUST BE CLOSED

The Consumer Council today welcomed John McFall’s call for more consumer protection in the wake of the Farepak collapse that left thousands of people out of pocket and facing a miserable Christmas. The statement comes as the Treasury Select Committee published a report today on financial inclusion .

Carol Edwards, Head of Education at the Consumer Council said: “No matter where people decide to save their money, they need to feel that it is safe.  Farepak's demise dented people's confidence and we welcome the call for appropriate safeguards to be put in place so that this can never happen again. 

“Northern Ireland consumers lag behind the rest of the UK when it comes to choosing and keeping up to date with financial products and planning for the future.  The report's recommendation that particular pockets of financial disadvantage will be identified to allow Government resources to be targeted effectively is a welcome step forward.

“There must be a sea change in how we educate people about financial matters.  It is about more than leaflets and websites.  We must embed financial education in our schools and communities so that people can make wise and informed choices about bank accounts, loans, credit cards and the full and complex range of products and services that they are bombarded with every day.  Providers of financial services also have a responsibility to make their information clear and easy to understand.” 

In Northern Ireland, the Consumer Council has established the NI Financial Capability Partnership with the Financial Services Authority to bring together representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors to identify priorities.  More resources are needed to champion financial inclusion here to benefit consumers, the economy and society in general.  Only then, will the gap between consumers in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK be closed.

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 www.consumercouncil.org.uk