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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hamper Schemes Ring-Fenced

Following on from the collapse of Farepak, the Christmas hamper company, last year the government has finally got its act together.

It has been announced that payments to Christmas Hamper schemes will be ring-fenced, so that savers will be protected from suffering the same fate as the victims of the Farepak collapse.

Consumer minister, Ian McCartney, said that payments to similar schemes should now be placed in separate accounts, run by independent trustees on behalf of the customers.

The money would only be released to pay for the customers' orders for Christmas hampers and vouchers, not for other business activities.

This of course, in any well run business, should have been happening already.

Quote:

"The companies are now working to introduce these accounts over the coming weeks.

We think that effective safeguards of this type will provide the reassurance consumers are looking for in this industry
".

This action was in response to one of the recommendations of a review into Christmas hamper savings schemes collapse by Brian Pomeroy, chairman of the Financial Inclusion Taskforce.

Pomeroy has also called for more to be done to offer consumers better choice within the market, and to educate people about the best options available to them.

Quote:

"This is a market which has operated for many years and provides as many as 700,000 families with a useful way of saving.

However it is vital that more is done to protect its customers and ensure genuine choice for those who want to save for Christmas
."

The government's response, whilst being welcome, is somewhat late in the day for the victims of Farepak.

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