StepChange commends Treasury Select Committee for keeping up pressure for debt reforms

StepChange Debt Charity is pleased to see the recommendations published today [13 May] in the Treasury Select Committee’s report of its inquiry into consumers’ access to financial services.

StepChange particularly welcomes the Committee’s high levels of expectation of Government action in relation to bailiff reform and the introduction of a pilot No Interest Loan Scheme.

Richard Lane, Director of External Affairs at StepChange Debt Charity, said: “It’s good to see the Treasury Committee seeking to hold the Government’s feet to the fire on progress in introducing the No Interest Loan Scheme feasibility pilot, bailiff reform, and improvements on government debt collection practice. People experiencing problem debt really do need help, and the scrutiny now being given by MPs to the flaws in the system can only lead to improvements.”

Other notable recommendations from the Committee are that:

  • Local authorities should sign up to the Citizen’s Advice and Local Government Association Protocol, and that the Government should instruct them to do so.
  • A duty of care for the financial sector should be introduced, and the FCA’s promised further consultation on changing the principles (instead of a duty of care) should be completed swiftly (by Autumn 2019) with a clear timetable for when the changes the FCA proposes to make will occur.
  • The FCA should set clear expectations of how financial service providers should treat vulnerable consumers under its definition, through the guidance it plans to publish across all the sectors that it regulates.
  • The FCA’s new vulnerability guidance should include specific requirements such as the level of training financial services staff should be required to have, and what and how adjustments should be offered.

The committee’s report also recognises StepChange’s analysis of vulnerable consumers’ treatment by creditors.