Personal Finances
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01st August 2005

LOCAL BANKNOTES A HASSLE FOR CONSUMERS

<p>The Consumer Council has welcomed Treasury plans to modernise and streamline arrangements for banks issuing their own banknotes. This could lead to the Big Four banks losing a long-held £38.5 million competitive advantage over banks in Northern Ireland that do not print their own notes.</p>

Eleanor Gill, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council said: “It appears to the Consumer Council that the Big Four banks alone benefit from this historical practice of printing their own notes.  In our view, there is only hassle and hindrance for consumers when they try to use these locally printed notes outside Northern Ireland. 

“It is remarkable that the Big Four banks here have been making tens of millions of pounds from this practice as well as benefiting from free advertising, status and prestige.  Despite this, they charge Northern Ireland consumers more than their counterparts in the rest of the UK, and offer low interest on our hard-earned money.  The Consumer Council has shared its concerns on this issue with the Competition Commission who is investigating the personal current account market.

“The Consumer Council welcomes Treasury's proposed changes which will offer better protection to consumers holding notes printed by local banks in Northern Ireland and Scotland.  They will also streamline and strengthen regulation and provide greater transparency and public information on the practices of note issuing banks. 

The Treasury calculates that servicing these changes will cost note-issuing banks around £80million.  The Consumer Council will be requiring copper-fastened guarantees from the Regulator that the shareholders of the Big Four banks will bear the cost of these changes alone and will not be permitted to pass any of the costs on to their long-suffering customers.”

  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.

For more information, visit our website at www.gccni.org.uk