Thursday 26 April 2018

Bruton agrees to meeting with stricken Consumers' Association

Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

ENTERPRISE Minister Richard Bruton has agreed to meet the independent Consumers' Association as the lobby group seeks to stave off financial collapse.

The association has had to lay off most of its staff and stop printing its magazine because of a shortage of funds.

And it has criticised Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton for failing, up to now, to respond to requests for meetings to discuss restoring Government funding.

The lobby group has made a desperate plea to the Government to save it from collapse.

The finances of the association have fallen sharply after the Government stopped funding at the start of last year and membership numbers have fallen by 40pc to 3,300.

Four full-time staff have been temporarily laid off and the organisation has had to stop printing its 'Consumer Choice' magazine, even though it is available to members online, Mr Jewell said.

Strike

He said that a lightning strike meant the association's landlines were not working and this was not related to the group's current financial woes.

Mr Jewell said the association has been seeking a meeting with Mr Bruton since March 2011.

The annual budget of the consumers' lobby group was between €400,000 and €500,000.

The laying off of staff and the decision to no longer print the magazine would not mean the association would disappear, Mr Jewell said.

The Consumers' Association council, which is made up of voluntary members, would still exist, he added.

Letter

In a letter to Mr Bruton, association chairman Michael Kilcoyne accused the minister of ignoring calls for financial assistance.

"We are at a point where, having been ignored by you and your department we cannot continue without intervention.

"The loss to consumers of this nation will be significant."

Mr Jewell said funding of €63,000 was to be provided by the Government. This was cut to €28,000 in 2010.

There was no funding for the organisation last year and no funding this year, while staff defined benefit pension scheme was wound up in 2010.

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