Seminar on the future of consumer credit regulation

On 18 June 2013, the APPG on Debt and Personal Finance met to discuss the transfer of consumer credit regulation from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) due in April 2014.

Helen McCarthy, speaking for Citizens Advice, outlined the Charity’s concern about the practices of many consumer credit firms, including payday lenders, debt collection agencies and debt management companies.

Speaking for the Finance and Leasing Association, Stephen Sklaroff, said the new regime needed to be “proportionate” in order to be effective. He added that the FCA authorisation process for credit firms would need to reflect the many different categories of businesses and levels of risk and avoid excluding responsible lenders from the market.

Lesley Titcomb, from the Financial Conduct Authority, outlined the process involved in moving from a regime based on the Consumer Credit Act and associated guidance to one involving new high-level principles, high-level rules, conduct rules, and new guidance. She said it was the biggest change in credit regulation for a generation. She pointed out that the FCA had received feedback on its high-level proposals, and would be consulting on its new rules in the Autumn. The FCA would be doing more research into the market when its got its new powers in April 2014 and would look at what further changes may be needed. The end result should be a significant improvement in consumer protection, she said.

Yvonne Fovargue agreed with the panellists that the discussion would help to keep attention on areas causing the most consumer detriment and highlighted the need for the FCA to take swift and decisive action.