The Consumer Council welcome the opportunity to respond to the Utility Regulator’s (UR) call for evidence. As providers of essential services, energy and water companies have a responsibility to assist consumers in vulnerable circumstances or who face affordability challenges. We support UR’s work to improve the protections provided to consumers. We agree with the focus placed on vulnerability and affordability by UR in its Consumer Protection Programme. We now wish to see an acceleration of progress.
The Consumer Council welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Financial Conduct Authority’s consultation on Guidance for Firms on the Fair Treatment of Vulnerable Consumers.
Of the devolved UK nations, Northern Ireland has the lowest median wage with median weekly earnings for 2018 at £521 compared to the UK average of £569 . A recent report released from Which? shows that only half (49% ) of those in Northern Ireland were content with their income, over a quarter (26% ) do not have money saved for a “rainy day”, and 50% of consumers have less than £300 left after mortgage/rent and essential bills in a typical month.
Northern Ireland is unique in the UK in its dependence on aviation for economic and social connectivity to the rest of the UK and beyond. The expansion of Heathrow airport is an opportunity to increase the domestic connectivity of Northern Ireland to the Heathrow hub. The Government should consider the use of a PSO to ring fence slots to facilitate this.
The Consumer Council of Northern Ireland welcomes the invitation to respond to the Financial Ombudsman Service's (FOS) consultation on future funding and welcomes the opportunity of exploring the idea of working together with FOS.
The Consumer Council welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the CMAs loyalty penalty call for evidence. The Consumer Council believes it is uniquely placed to respond to this review from a Northern Ireland consumer perspective. This is because of daily interaction with consumers alongside in-house research which closely examines the spending behaviours of consumers in Northern Ireland.
The Consumer Council welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) consultation on Intergenerational Differences. We recognise that the FCA’s consultation centres on evolution of the way people build and use wealth and how these changes have an impact on consumers’ financial needs. However, The Consumer Council believes that consideration also needs to be given to the key differences that Northern Ireland consumers face in relation to financial services, as outlined below, which will have particular relevance to consumers’ ability to build and use wealth across generations.
The Consumer Council welcomes this opportunity to contribute to the Independent ‘Access to Cash’ Review. The Consumer Council believes it is uniquely placed to respond to from a Northern Ireland consumer perspective. This is because of our daily interaction with consumers alongside outreach, empowerment work and research which closely examines consumers spending behaviours.
The Consumer Council welcomes this opportunity to contribute to Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT) Committee’s policy proposal on the ‘Breathing space’ consultation. The Consumer Council believes it is well placed to respond to this review from the perspective of the Northern Ireland consumer. Our outreach and empowerment work, complaint resolution and research gives us first-hand knowledge of the needs of consumers in Northern Ireland and the key issues affecting them.
The Consumer Council welcomes the opportunity to respond to Ofcom’s further consultation: recovering postal regulation and consumer advocacy costs, which proposes amendments to the relevant regulatory condition (CP1) to clarify that only turnover relating to domestic services, and not international letters and parcels, should be included when calculating relevant turnover.
The Consumer Council response to the Department for Transport’s ‘Aviation 2050 – the future of UK aviation’.
The Consumer Council supports the government’s objectives for its long term Aviation Strategy. Northern Ireland is unique in the UK in having no road or rail links with the rest of the UK. As such, it relies heavily on aviation to connect its people and its economy to the rest of the UK and the world. We therefore welcome the commitment within the consultation paper to deliver the connectivity that Northern Ireland needs.
We welcome the proposal to develop a Passenger Charter. We would emphasise that a comprehensive framework of regulations already exists and the key issue is to ensure that the requirements in these regulations are delivered consistently for all consumers.
The Consumer Council has reviewed with interest the European Regulators Group for Postal Services (ERGP) report on Developments in the postal sector and implications for regulation. We note the report raises a number of strategically important policy considerations for the postal sector and regulation in the postal market. We provide some general comments below and highlight The Consumer Council’s research which is relevant to many key areas discussed in the ERGP report.
The Consumer Council of Northern Ireland welcomes the invitation to respond to the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA’s) Mortgages Market Study Interim Report. The Financial Conduct Authority have investigated the extent to which certain existing mortgage customers are trapped in high rate mortgages from which they cannot escape.
There is a higher rate of so called ‘mortgage prisoners’ in Northern Ireland than in the rest of the UK. The Consumer Council’s response seeks to ensure consumer need here is represented and fully considered in any future regulation of the mortgage market.
The Consumer Council welcomes the opportunity to respond to The Money and Pension Service (MaPS) listening document and enjoyed participating in the Belfast Listening Event on 6 June 2019 at the Skainos Centre. Our Chief Executive gave a presentation on the key issues facing Northern Ireland consumers and a number of staff gave extensive comment on the issues and questions posed on the day. Therefore, this response will focus on the key points made at the event, and will refer to the National Strategy and the five life stages discussed at the event.
The Consumer Council of Northern Ireland welcomes the invitation to respond to the FCA’s Call for input and welcomes the plan to evaluate the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) and Financial Advice Market Review (FAMR). Due to the technical nature of the questions posed within the Call for Input, The Consumer Council believe it is best placed to provide an overview of the issues in relation to RDR and FAMR that it would like the FCA to consider moving forward.