I have been contacted by a number of constituents who want me to use my voice to help tackle unlawful lending.
I am fully committed to ensuring that more households can manage unexpected costs through affordable credit.
Tackling the problems caused by high-cost credit requires a comprehensive approach. The government wants to both encourage the growth of the social lending sector as an alternative to high cost credit like payday loans and ensure that the existing payday lending sector is effectively regulated.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) established, reformed and toughened rules governing payday lending in 2015, which included a holistic cap on the total cost of payday loans, so that no payday loan consumer should have to pay back more than twice what they borrowed. In addition, the FCA is consulting on a further package of regulatory reforms for the high-cost credit market. I believe that more can and should be done to build on this progress.
I therefore welcome the measures outlined in the recent Budget to make credit even more accessible, and help people manage problem debt. The Budget proposed a 'breathing space scheme', which would allow for a 60 day protection period from debt recovery action by creditors. The policy, the finer details of which are currently being considered in a public consultation, is intended to allow people time to work out a path to consistent pay-back of debt.
The Budget also announced the introduction of a pilot scheme for interest free loans. There will first be a feasibility study carried out by the Government in collaboration with banks and debt charities.
Credit Unions are another key pillar of the affordable lending sector; a new pilot prize-linked savings scheme, also announced at Budget, will enable them to build their capital and expand their lending activities.
I hope these measures reassure constituents that the government is determined to bring an end to unlawful lending.