Consumer protectionNew project promotes direct consumer protection in underprivileged neighborhoods

At the beginning of September, the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV) and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Construction and Reactor Safety (BMUB) initiated their joint model program "Empowering consumers in the neighborhood“ in Bonn-Tannenbusch. The aim is to better support people in disadvantaged city districts and, in particular, to provide information on consumer protection. This pilot project is part of the BMUB-program "Socially Integrative City ", for which around 10 million Euros of national funding will be available every year between 2017 and 2020. As a part of this, 16 further model projects are to be promoted throughout Germany by 2020.

These are the key aspects of the project:

  • Funding will take place in selected deprived residential areas, where people will be supported and shall proactively receive consumer information.
  • Until now, the services of consumer advice centers were characterized by a so-called "come-in culture". In contrast, now a "reaching-out-culture" is pursued with proactively approaching consumers in their immediate residential environment to provide help and support.
  • On these grounds, consumer centers are to create sustainable support structures by offering low-threshold services, from which all people in the neighborhood can ultimately benefit.
  • For the project planning and implementation local actors such as the neighborhood management and their services are to be integrated and expanded upon.

Ulrich Kelber, parliamentary Secretary in the BMJV, commented: "It was a long time since consumer protection finally got to where people spend their daily lives – directly in their residential areas. With this nationally unique and new program, people in difficult life situations can receive prompt and unbureaucratic support, for instance, regarding questions about mobile phone contracts. Consumer work that reaches out is already successfully taking place in the pilot projects in Bonn-Tannenbusch and Halle Saale, both funded by the BMJV. All the more, I am glad that this work can be expanded even further. Consumer protection lives off of citizens who trust in support and information offers. With this program, we will continue to pursue the path that we have tested over the past four years."

ConPolicy has been supporting a similar pilot approach in three selected neighborhoods in Cologne since 2016 with scientific consulting and monitoring. More on this approach can be found here.

Source: BMJV and BMUB

More information and the BMUB press release