Press releases

Teenagers to take on MPs at party political conferences

Clued-up teenagers will be going head to head with MPs at all three major political conferences during September to test how much they know about looking after their money.

Winners and finalists from the Trading Standards Institute's (TSI) Young Consumers of the Year 2008 competition will take part in a quiz against a team featuring an MP and other professionals at the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat conferences.

The events will be part of 'fringe' sessions on 'Young People and Money Management', organised by Citizens Advice and Experian, the credit reference agency, one of the sponsors of Young Consumers of the Year.

'I'm sure the MPs and others attending these sessions will be amazed at just how much these young people know about their rights and responsibilities when it comes to looking after their money,' said Ron Gainsford, chief executive of TSI.

'The Young Consumers of the Year competition highlights to students all over the country the importance of being well informed about consumer issues, giving them knowledge and awareness that will stand them in good stead for life.

'Attending the party political conferences will be a wonderful experience for these teenagers, as well as highlighting to political leaders the need to educate and protect young people at a time when managing money becomes ever more complex and fraught with potential pitfalls.'

The national winners of the 2008 national final of the Young Consumers of the Year competition - from Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in Canterbury, Kent - will take part in the quiz at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Bournemouth. The session will take place on Sunday 14 September at 6.15pm in the Tregonwell Room at the Royal Exeter Hotel.

Three members of the team from St Joseph's College, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, who reached the national finals this year, will take part in the event at the Labour Conference in Manchester on Sunday 21 September, starting at 5.30pm in the Derby Room at the Midland Hotel.

And three members of the team from Swanshurst School, Billesley, Birmingham, who reached the West Midlands final of the competition, will pit themselves against an MP and other professionals at the Conservative Conference in Birmingham, starting at 5.45pm on Sunday 28 September in Hall 11A at the ICC.

James Jones, consumer education manager for Experian, said: 'The youngsters will be able to pit their wits against some high-flying political brains, answering questions about credit, finance and managing their own money. I think it may well come as a surprise to some of the politicians just how much the youngsters know!'

'The Young Consumers of the Year competition forms an important part of Experian's consumer education programme and helps young people develop the knowledge and skills they need to become confident and responsible citizens.'

Teresa Perchard, director of social policy at Citizens Advice, said: 'Attendance by these very well-informed teenagers at the fringe events will also be a golden opportunity for the politicians to find out more about young people's attitudes to money and consumer issues in general.

'This may well be invaluable to them as they consider financial issues, particularly those that impact upon young people.'

Notes to Editors

The Young Consumers of the Year competition, which is organised by TSI, involves hundreds of schools from across England, Scotland and Wales. It is designed to educate young people to be aware of their responsibilities as well as their rights, giving them the skills to help make informed decisions when purchasing items on a day-to day basis, as well as helping prepare for life after school.

The competition's sponsors include the Office of Fair Trading, the Food Standards Agency, Experian, Argos, the Financial Services Authority, the British Toy and Hobby Association and the Consumer Education Liaison Group.

Trading Standards Institute

The Trading Standards Institute has represented the interests of Trading Standards professionals for 120 years. We have a long and proud history of ensuring that the views of our members are well represented at the highest level of government, both nationally and internationally.

Our aim is to promote excellence and enhance the professionalism of our members in support of empowering and informing consumers, encouraging and working with honest businesses, targeting rogue traders and rogue trading practices and contributing to the health, welfare and wellbeing of citizens and communities.

TSI members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities in response to 2 million consumer and business complaints and enquiries each year. They also support the delivery of new initiatives such as Consumer Direct, providing first point of contact practical consumer advice.

They also work in the business, consumer and central government sectors in promoting and influencing the safety, prosperity and enhancement of individuals and markets with a dependency on effective and professional trading standards contributions and interventions.