Has COVID-19 affected your personal finances? There is help available

Today (31 August 2020) marks the start of The Consumer Council’s ‘True Cost’ campaign, which is raising awareness of the practical help available to Northern Ireland households that are struggling financially during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The Consumer Council is providing consumers with free advice and information in relation to:

  • Managing debt (including sources of free, independent and confidential debt advice);
  • Borrowing money (including alternative credit providers); and
  • Household budgeting and shopping around for a better deal.

The True Cost website is available here: www.consumercouncil.org.uk/truecost

Scott Kennerley, Director of Financial Services at The Consumer Council, said: “As the COVID-19 crisis continues impacting on many people’s finances, we have launched our True Cost campaign to highlight the practical support and help that is available.

“Over the coming weeks, all households in Northern Ireland can expect to receive a leaflet we have produced in partnership with Advice NI and Christians Against Poverty (CAP), which gives information on alternative lenders, budgeting and accessing free, independent and confidential debt advice.

“In addition, we also have a dedicated website, which offers practical advice and online tools on budgeting, borrowing money safely, seeking advice early before debt becomes an issue and what consumers can do if they are worried about illegal money lenders.

Scott added: “This campaign follows on from a successful pilot that we launched just prior to the COVID-19 crisis, which in the first two weeks, reached nearly 110,000 consumers online and over 58,000 households through informational leaflets.

Sinéad Campbell, Head of Money Debt and Quality at Advice NI, said: “Advice NI is delighted to work with The Consumer Council to raise awareness of debt advice services. The tools and advice available are vital to anyone who is finding it hard to manage their money.

“It is a difficult time with the start of a recession, increased job losses and redundancies, a lack of access to credit and another potential wave of COVID-19. Therefore, we encourage people to access all of this help and advice as soon as they can.”

Alison Flanagan, Head of CAP Northern Ireland, said: “We are delighted to be part of The Consumer Council’s True Cost campaign as CAP sees many people who are living with worry or fear as a result of their financial position, and we are so aware of the negative impact that can have on people’s lives.

“The Consumer Council’s efforts to raise awareness of these issues is very much welcomed as we believe that people should have access to information and advice on budgeting and borrowing at an early stage, so they don’t end up in a position where they feel overwhelmed by their situation - or see no alternative to approaching an illegal lender.“

If you’re worried about your finances during COVID-19, visit The Consumer Council’s True Cost website for practical support and help: www.consumercouncil.org.uk/truecost

The Consumer Council also has other helpful tools and resources for consumers, including a free online interactive budgeting tool and a COVID-19 personal finances webpage

If you are looking for free and confidential money and debt advice, freephone Advice NI on 0800 915 4604 or Christians Against Poverty on 0800 328 0006.

Last updated 3 weeks 1 day ago