Consumer Tips
Money
Shopping
12 October 2020

Christmas preparations and budget

Yup, we said it and there’s no denying that Christmas is on it’s way, so out come the Christmas emojis   To misquote that old song ‘It’s the most expensive time of the year’ and with Christmas just over 10 weeks away and shops starting to display their Christmas wares, now is a good time to start preparing, with particular focus on your budget. The financial strains caused by the pandemic are going to make 2020 celebrations tough for many Islanders.    People celebrate Christmas in different ways. Some like the traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings served on a beautifully decorated table, and others prefer a more casual day. But, the one thing we all have in common is the financial burden it puts on our income. A recent study suggests the average cost of Christmas is around £500.    Many of you may have started your shopping already which is a great way to spread the cost and avoid the financial hit of paying for everything in December. To help you with your preparations and money management, we’ve created a Christmas budget planner which includes a breakdown of many Christmas items that you may need to buy and some tips on how to keep the cost down.   Bargain spotting is always fun and this year Amazon Prime members can take advantage of the annual ‘Amazon Prime Day’ which, due to COVID, has been delayed from July. It’s actually spread over two days and officially starts tomorrow (13 & 14 October), although deals are already available. This is great timing for anyone looking to bag an early Christmas bargain, be it a present, an extra chair or sofa bed for guests, or that new TV to watch the Christmas movies and sport on.   Gift vouchers are a popular and easy choice as presents. However, many retailers, both large and small, have struggled in recent years with some on the brink of collapse and others already fallen into administration. With this in mind, it’s important to note that a gift voucher will often not be honoured, if a company collapses.   Some of our other tips are:   Don’t forget your everyday bills still need paying.   Don’t rely on an overdraft or borrow from unauthorised lenders.    Remember to clear your credit card balance straight away.    Always buy from a reputable company and do your research.    Postage costs can be high - why not consider delivering some of your cards by hand? Just make sure you don't end up spending more on petrol than you would have done on stamps! Check and track prices using sites such as camelcamelcamel.com who monitor Amazon prices throughout the year.    Sign up to store newsletters and follow your favourite brands on social media to see their offers.   If you’re not an Amazon Prime member (usually £7.99 per month) take advantage of the 30 day free trials. If you time it right you can be a member during either Prime Day or Black Friday. Remember to diarise the cancellation date, so that your membership is cancelled before they automatically take the next month’s payment.    Annual Black Friday sales start in stores and online in late November.    If you’ve got a store account or membership which offers loyalty points, now’s the time to cash them in.    Posting parcels will add to your costs. Consider buying from stores (usually online) that offer free delivery directly to the present recipient (with strict instructions ‘Do Not Open until 25 December’)!    Take advantage of retailers, both in-store and online, offering a free gift wrapping service.    To help the environment and your budget, buy brown paper rather than expensive Christmas paper. You can make it personal by decorating it by hand.    Get the family involved and have fun making your own decorations. For example, start drying out collect fallen pine cones and slices of orange to hang on the tree.    If you have some of your budget left over, why not buy next year’s gifts in the January sales.    As mad as it sounds, January is the time to start saving for next Christmas (without adding pressure to you regular expenditure). If you put away just £5 a week, by the start of December you’ll have £240. Double that to £10 a week and you will have £480 towards next year’s cost.   
At Home
Money
Shopping
05 September 2022

Survey - Credit Card Availability

Would you mind taking 2 minutes to complete our credit card availability survey? Recent History Credit card availability to Islanders, or the increasing lack of it, has been on our radar for 2-3 years. We have held multiple meetings with local financial institutions, Jersey Finance, Jersey Banking Association, as well as representatives of the previous government representatives.   Recently, the Council contacted several other providers including AMEX, MBNA, M&S Bank, Virgin Money and Tesco, and received replies from all. We have since become aware that John Lewis is also following the same pattern.   Reasons Their reasons for either pulling out of the Channel Islands altogether; no longer accepting new applications; or only offering existing customers a replacement card; are two-fold:   1). Jersey is not part of the United Kingdom. 2). Providing the service is no longer commercially viable.   Locally, we are only aware that HSBC offers new applications to non-account holders if the applicant meets the appropriate requirements.   Having received more enquiries from islanders during the last year, and many in the last month, it appears the situation is worsening so we're trying to find out how many applications or renewal requests have been refused.   Survey Link The closing date is Wednesday 14 September. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/creditcardavailability Thank you    
Energy & Fuel
Living Costs
Money
27 April 2022

Jersey’s Government rejects calls for consumer help

Jersey’s Chief Minister has rejected a call from the Jersey Consumer Council to help Islanders through the current cost of living emergency.  The JCC took the unusual step to write to Senator John Le Fondré on 18 March, to ask him and his Government ministers to consider a package of measures which could help ease the financial pressures being put on consumers following a combination of Brexit, the economic recovery from Covid and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.   Combined, the three price rise drivers have resulted in record fuel prices, rocketing food prices and unprecedented energy price increases.   The five key measures the Council requested for a three month period were:    A reduction in fuel duty by 9p a litre  A £100 credit made available to each household to put towards their energy winter bill  Free bus journeys and free parking into town on Saturdays  A commitment to not introducing a reduction in the online shopping threshold before 2023  The establishment of a panel of Islanders and business leaders who could suggest further assistant measures    Below is the Chief Minister’s full letter dated 13 April 2022    Dear Carl,  Thank you for your letter, dated Friday, 18 March, relaying the suggestions of the Jersey Consumer Council (JCC). I apologise for the significant delay in replying to you.  The Government of Jersey is fully aware of the inflationary pressures facing all Islanders and has implemented support measures which were announced at the last States sitting by the Social Security Minister. Any measures adopted by the Government need to be targeted to achieve the maximum assistance to those most vulnerable to the effects of inflation.  The current inflationary pressure has largely arisen as a result of global factors that are beyond Jersey's control. However, in addition to the measures already taken, Ministers continue to consider further practical initiatives that can be taken where appropriate in the short and medium term to alleviate the impact of inflationary pressures will have on Islanders. These will be ready for presentation to the next Council of Ministers following the elections in June.   I have set out below detailed responses to each of the suggestions raised by the Consumer Council.     Reduce the duty on motor fuel by 9p per litre at the till  Whilst on a cursory basis this might appear attractive there are a number of concerns over this suggestion.  Reducing fuel duty is not an effective means of delivering help to Islanders. It does not benefit all households equally. Average mileage and fuel consumption in Jersey is significantly lower than in the UK. In addition, households on lower incomes - who have lower rates of car ownership - make up only a small percentage of motor fuel spending. A reduction in fuel duty would therefore disproportionately benefit those households with higher incomes and more vehicles, with some of those least well off receiving no benefit at all.  The Jersey Consumer Council's PriceComparison.je website on 21 March showed the cheapest litre of unleaded petrol in Jersey was 149.9p (in St Saviour) while the most expensive was 167.9p (in St Helier) - a difference of 18 pence. For diesel, the cheapest litre is to be had in St Helier at 153.0p in St Helier and the most expensive litre can also be had in St Helier for 173.9p - a difference of 20.9 pence, which is far greater than the reduction of 9p per litre which is proposed by the JCC. Islanders therefore already have the ability to achieve far greater savings than a reduction of 9p would achieve by being selective in where they purchase their motor fuel.  It should also be remembered that the States Assembly has declared a Climate Emergency and that we should be doing everything possible to encourage the use of public transport and other more climate friendly modes of transport at this time, many of which offer better value to islanders. The component of fuel duty hypothecated to the Climate Emergency Fund is essential in delivering on the commitments identified in the Carbon Neutral Roadmap that is due to go before the States in April.  A 9-pence reduction in fuel duty would reduce Government income by a little over £4 million per annum. The Carbon Neutral Roadmap proposes a suite of policies that seek to reduce Jersey's reliance on fossil fuels over the long term for reasons of sustainability (carbon reduction) but also to increase the affordability and security of our energy supplies. By reducing resources to deliver these policies, Jersey will remain exposed for longer to energy market supply issues and the geopolitical tensions associated with fossil fuel production that we are seeing causing the current market volatility and associated impacts.  Finally, in relation to a reduction in fuel duty it would also be important to have some degree of confidence that such a reduction would be passed on in full to consumers and I note that this concern is also being expressed in the United Kingdom.     Make £100 credit available for every household to spend on their chosen energy bill  It is important that any measures agreed by Ministers provides support in a way that is targeted to where it is most needed and can be of the most assistance. For this reason, a £100 credit to all households is not being actively considered. However Ministers have agreed a temporary scheme to support those most vulnerable. The Minister for Social Security has announced plans for monthly payments to support those most vulnerable in our community. This will take the form of a direct monthly payment of £20 to every adult or child in a household claiming Income Support and every pensioner claiming a means tested benefit.  This scheme will run from April to December 2022 and will benefit approximately 11,450 individuals. An eligible household of four will therefore receive £80 per month for nine months which is clearly more beneficial than a single payment of £100. Payments will be sent automatically - there will be no need for people to apply. These payments will also go to everyone receiving the Community Costs Bonus (CCB). Officers will also be exploring options for longer term support which will be considered by the new Council of Ministers following the election in June.     Commit to not reducing the online shopping threshold before 1 January  I can confirm that this is already the case and that the GST De Minimis Level will not be reduced (from £135 to £60) until mandatory registration of larger offshore retailers commences. As identified in the Law [Finance (2022 Budget) Law], which was approved by the States Assembly at the end of last year, the reduction in the GST De Minimis Level will not come into force until 1st January 2023.     Consider allowing free bus journeys to St Helier and/or three hours free parking on Saturdays  Whilst theoretically attractive, experience and evidence does suggest that these proposals can result in unintended consequences which would not achieve the desired outcome. Previous surveys indicate that Jersey consumers value the convenience of a location above the price of parking when choosing where to shop. Indeed, the percentage of respondents who considered the price of parking to be a factor was less than 10%.  It should be recognised that free parking could therefore work contrary to its intended result. As it removes the price incentive to walk, cycle or use the bus for town workers, this could generate additional demand for parking spaces making it harder to find a parking space which in turn may put people off shopping in the town.  Regarding free bus journeys, the most recent Household Spending survey found that bus fares averaged less than 0.2% of total expenditure - and that actually it was higher earners that spend more on public transport than lower earners.   Consider establishing an independent anti-inflation panel  The Government has reconstituted the Inflation Strategy Group to monitor changes and recommend any steps the Government can take to assist Islanders. This group has already met and is supported by the Chief Economic Advisor and Chief Statistician, and other specialist officers.  Current forecasts are for further changes in inflation over the course of the next year and the Government will aim to target any supportive measures to assist Islanders who are most vulnerable That is why we have put in place more than £2 million worth of assistance for those most affected by the current inflationary pressures, and which are taking affect during the course of this month.   I hope the above clearly addresses each of the points raised by the Consumer Council in your letter and provides the Council with confidence that the Government of Jersey is taking this matter seriously.   Yours sincerely  Senator John Le Fondré  Chief Minister    Consumer Council Chairman Carl Walker responded by saying: "We are very disappointed with the response from the Chief Minister and his team, and it is clear that the Government of Jersey believes it is already doing enough to help Islanders through these extremely difficult times.  "The Council has tried its best to prompt the Government to act beyond the £4.62 a week it has promised to those already on benefits, and will now concentrate on developing other work streams which may help consumers cope with this cost of living emergency.”    Islanders are welcome to share their thoughts on the JCC’s social media accounts or by emailing contact@consumercouncil.je  
Consumer Tips
Energy & Fuel
Money
30 March 2022

Fuel Saving Tips

Fuel Saving Tips With forecourt fuel prices going through reaching record highs, we’ve put together some tips on how to reduce your fuel consumption and get the best available price. Since the Council started collecting forecourt prices around 15 years ago, the highest recorded prices were in 2012/2013 when they reached just over £1.20 per litre for unleaded petrol. The latest prices, published on 29 March 2022, are eye-watering with the prices ranging from:Unleaded £1.519 - £1.749 plDiesel       £1.550 - £1.819 pl Now, more than ever, it’s essential that we drive as efficiently as possible to get the most miles from as little fuel as possible. Your car manual will possibly have some suggestions on how to get the best out of your specific make and model but here are some more general tips. Get the best price Find the forecourt closest to your house, work, or on your route, that is selling at the best price by using our pricecomparison.je website or free downloadable app. Most forecourts with the same branding sell at the same price, but not all. Just because you can get one price in St Martin does not mean it will be the same in St Ouen. Sign up for one of the free loyalty schemes offered by the suppliers, as you will often benefit from discounts, or accumulate cash for use at a later date. The places offering these will be shown on our price comparison site very soon. Drive wisely Avoid stopping and starting, if possible. Gently roll up to the red traffic light or yellow line. Lower your speed and drive in the highest gear for that speed (within the speed limit).Accelerate away slowly and, when driving try to maintain your speed and keep the revs between 1,500 - 2,500 rpm (petrol) and 1,200 - 2,000 rpm (diesel). Brake gently too, rather than leaving it late and wasting energy (unless an emergency stop is required). Keep in gear when braking as this uses very little fuel. Keep the number of times you change gear to a minimum. Many new cars have gear change indication on the dashboard which shows the most economical gear to be driving in at any one time. With all our hills, its’ good to know that when coming to one accelerate a little ahead of time and ease off as you drive up, which will minimise fuel consumption. Our Island speed limits range from 15 to 40 mph. According to the RAC, when driving in the UK driving between 50 to 60 mph is the best for fuel efficiency. The faster you drive the more fuel you use. Cruise control can be used in the UK or Europe but is no real benefit on our roads. Maintain and tidy your car Check your tyre pressure to reduce drag and effort on your engine. The correct pressure for your vehicle will be stated in the car manual. Check the oil levels and get it serviced regularly. It’s a good time to clear out anything in the boot that you don’t need for every journey. Any extra weight uses more fuel. Take off the roof rack, roof box or cycle rack, as these create drag and add weight. It’s great to support your football team but those patriotic flags, stuck on the window or aerial, will cost you. Don’t warm up the car Modern day cars don’t need to be warmed up before driving which means you’re not wasting fuel. Keep air con to a minimum If the window is iced over, use a scraper to clear it rather than cranking up the heater to warm up the window. In the summer, open the window and let that fresh air in, although this does increase drag. When you do need to use the heater or cooler, keep it to a minimum as it is one of the biggest uses of fuel. Plan your journey If you’re unsure where you’re going it’s worth using a satnav to get you there using the quickest route. Most newer models will redirect you to avoid traffic jams or roadworks so you don’t waste time and fuel in a traffic jam. Make your journey as efficient as possible by planning your stops so you don’t have to go back on yourself. Car share and buses Reduce the time you use your car by car-sharing or using the bus service.  
Health
Living Costs
Money
18 February 2022

Funeral costs comparison

The loss of a loved one is extremely hard, both emotionally and practically, so the more that can be planned beforehand, the easier on those we leave behind. Death and funerals are often topics that people feel uncomfortable thinking about or discussing. Yet, they are two of the most important matters in our lives, and it is good to be prepared for when that sad time comes. Any age is good to have those discussions with your loved ones, although the older we get the more morbid it might feel. The cost of a funeral is an essential part to be aware of, as families are often left with unexpected costs when a financial provision has not been made to cover them. The Council last published prices in February 2017, so recently contacted three local Funeral Directors to update the information – De Gruchys (Co-Op), Maillards (independent) and Pitcher & Le Quesne (Dignity). SunLife have been publishing their ‘Cost of Dying Report’ since 2004, and this year’s survey showed a slight reduction in the UK. It highlighted that although 66% of people put money aside for their funeral, over a third did not make sufficient provision to cover the full cost. The full report contains a lot more detail. Funeral Director Services Although price is a key factor, each Funeral Director is well established with staff who are experienced in comforting and offering both support and guidance to grieving families. It’s important to feel comfortable and build a relationship with the Funeral Director, so we recommend that you visit each of them before deciding who to choose. The Superintendent of the Crematorium is also happy to receive calls and answer any questions. Breakdown of Costs Service/Product De Gruchy’s(Co–Op) Maillards(Independent) Pitcher &Le Quesne(Dignity) Professional Fees £1,250 £1,335 £0 Funeral Director fee above professional fees £0 £0 £1,590 Care of deceased (bringing into care and treatment 24/7) £490 £380 £295 Provision of hearse, driver and bearers £750 £716 £600 Provision of one limousine £200 £194 £195 Attendance of Funeral Director at burial of ashes £75 £90 £0 Total cost of above £2,765(£2,165 in 2017) £2,715(£2,256 in 2017) £2,680(£3,863 in 2017) Direct/’no frills’ cremation * £1,795.35 £2,040.35 £1,700 Embalming (if requested) £185 £200 £155 Coffin – cheapest wood effect £595 £650 £495 Coffin – cheapest eco-friendly coffin (rattan, sea-grass or wicker) £785 £750 £845 Ashes urn – cheapest hardwood £120 £120 £115 Prices correct as at 14 February 2022 * May include different services and products. The price provided by Maillard’s does not include the Crematorium fee. Additional costs to the services provided by the Funeral Directors are: death certificate (currently £30) minister/pastor or celebrant fee church fees Crematorium fee (currently £760.65) doctor’s signature for crematorium form grave purchase internment fees (no interment fee of ashes at the crematorium if cremated in Jersey, otherwise it is £50) Book of Remembrance entry at the Crematorium (currently £42-£150 depending on wishes) Optional costs such as flowers, an organist or musician/singer should be accounted for too. To make the process easier for bereaved families, much of the organisation can be arranged and paid for by the Funeral Directors, who include them in the final invoice. The companies sometimes work with each other when the need arises, to ensure the experience is as painless as possible.They are willing to work with families to find the best option that will suit their needs and budget, and if requested will provide an estimate of costs before you agree to go ahead. Should you be eligible, they can advise on the Government’s Death Grant payment, which is currently £929.88. Guernsey Funeral Directors We also contacted the five Funeral Directors in Guernsey to get a comparison, four of which are independent. Two were willing to provide a price breakdown with an average cost of £2283.50.
At Home
Living Costs
Money
10 June 2022

New Budget Tool Available

We're delighted to announce the launch of our Budget Tool.   It can be found by clicking on the 'Budget Tool' button at the top of the home page or clicking the link below.   Many of you used the old version so we've built this updated one to help Islanders with money management, especially during the current cost of living crisis.   It's best completed online but there is a print option enabling you to print and fill in by hand if you prefer. As you fill in your monthly income and out-going expenditure, the tool will automatically calculate and total, providing you with a final balance amount.   The information can be saved and recalled at a later date so it can be used to show your financial status to potential landlords, banks or lenders. It can also be updated as needed.   https://www.consumercouncil.je/budget