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Farepak – we must learn the lessons

29 March, 2007

Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has welcomed the publication of the review into Christmas hamper and savings schemes following the collapse of the Farepak Company just before Christmas 2006 which particularly hit families on low incomes.

Ms Anderson said

"Thousands of people were badly hit when the Farepak Hamper company collapsed just weeks before Christmas last year, leaving many in great financial hardship and facing a very difficult Christmas. Some 150,000 people lost an average of £400 due to collapse.

"While the findings of any review of what happened will be of little comfort to those customers who were affected most, it will hopefully put in place guidelines so that a similar situation cannot happen again.

"Hamper schemes and Christmas saving clubs are widely used by many, particularly low-income households, so it is essential that money paid in advance to any scheme or companies is properly protected. The report recommended that more is done to inform and educate consumers about the advantages and disadvantages of the range of Christmas savings options available to families which is a welcome move.

"Its also said that the British Government should encourage providers, particularly the Post Office and the credit unions, to compete in this market and to develop innovative ways of attracting hard-to-reach customers.

"What needs to happen now is that the findings of this report are acted upon so that we never have the situation again of thousands of families having their Christmas wrecked without any change of financial help or redress if a company goes bust." ENDS

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