Payday Loans: Charity Demands Tougher Action
A charity has reported a 42% rise in the number of people suffering under the weight of payday loan debts and called for tougher regulation of the market.
StepChange said it dealt with 43,716 people in the first six months of this year, compared with 30,762 for the same period last year, handling more that £72m in debts.
The body argued its experience showed that plans to toughen regulations in the payday market from January did not go far enough to protect vulnerable consumers.
Under the measures announced by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), those who cannot repay payday loans on time will never have to pay back more in charges than the amount borrowed.
The plans include capping default fees at £15 and a limit of 0.8% per day on interest on unpaid balances.
StepChange said it wanted to see a tougher total cost cap than 100% of the value of a loan, the default fee cap reduced and a regulation to promote more responsible lending by ensuring lenders see a borrower's history in advance.
Its chief executive Mike O'Connor said: "Today's figures show that the payday market all too often fails to treat customers fairly, especially those in financial difficulty.
"High-cost short-term credit is rarely the answer to financial difficulties.
"While the FCA's proposed price cap is a crucial step forward, there is still much work to be done to ensure that payday loans can no longer plunge people into a cycle of unsustainable borrowing and entrenched financial hardship.
"Consumers will continue to need access to short-term credit and FCA action should also stimulate the reform of this market.
This needs to include problems in the adjacent markets including overdrafts, logbook loans and home credit where consumers also suffer detriment.
"The goal of an affordable lending market treating consumers fairly will also involve others but the FCA has a critical role to play in creating the right environment."