The major parties manifestos have pledged that people in serious debt will be afforded more legal protection for bailiffs, charges and interest.
Both Labour and the Conservatives have vowed to extend a ‘breathing space’ scheme that is currently used in Scotland and allows people time to organise debt repayments.
The Liberal Democrats have stated that they will increase regulation in the debt sector.
The parties’ pledges are a backdrop to widespread concern over the levels of personal debt among working households.
I have blogged recently that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned of acceleration in consumer borrowing such as loans, overdrafts and credit card debt as well as car finance debt which is now becoming more prevalent. These concerns have also been raised by the Bank of England.
The FCA is presently conducting its own inquiry into overdrafts, door to door lending and other forms of loan and unsecured debt. The regulator estimates that over 3 million people are in persistent credit card debt.
The recent focus has been on car finance deals. Debt used to finance new cars has increased hugely over the last year or two and in March 2017 alone motorists spent £3.6 billion on new deals.
There is a fear that many households are now seeing stagnant salary growth but with inflation creeping up they may be turning to increasing their debt level to maintain their lifestyle and fund purchases.
Many not for profit debt advice organisations such as StepChange believe that there should be better protection for people in debt and that the government should also work to achieve better alternatives to forms of high cost credit, as well as helping families build up savings to insulate them from problem debt.
More than 16 million people in the UK have savings of less than £100.00 according to the Money Advice Service leaving them exposed to debt accumulation and a possible financial shock.
StepChange has welcomed the breathing space scheme for those in serious debt but believes that this should be extended to a year. The theory is that this breathing space would allow those in debt to rebuild their income to prepare to repay what they have borrowed.
Campaigners have also called for greater protection for those facing mental health difficulties, particularly regarding store cards and impulse borrowing.
People with mental health problems are particularly vulnerable to financial difficulty resulting from debt and more likely to impulsively take out credit card debt or other forms of lending which can be accessed online within a few clicks of a button.
If you are worried about your debts and would like to speak to an experienced specialist for confidential debt advice, please call Farleys Solicitors on 0845 287 0939 or email us.