Seminar on the future of consumer credit regulation

On 14 June 2011 the APPG on Debt and Personal Finance hosted a seminar entitled “Protecting Consumers – the future of consumer credit regulation.” Mark Lazarowicz MP chaired the meeting, welcoming Chris Leslie, Shadow Financial Secretary; Stephen Sklaroff, Managing Director of the Finance and Leasing Association and Peter Tutton, Social Policy Officer at Citizens Advice as speakers.

Stephen Sklaroff began by highlighting the importance of the consumer credit market. Seventy per cent of households were using some form of credit, he said.  And the UK consumer credit market is one of the most flexible and diverse in the world.

Chris Leslie MP responded saying that it was vital to ensure a good availability of credit, credit providers should not be demonised and consumers could not automatically blame lenders when they get into debt, but had to take some responsibility. But consumers had to be protected, he said, policy makers cannot assume that consumers are always entirely rational or that they always have all the information they need to make good decisions. The regulatory framework for consumer credit has not yet got this balance right.

Peter Tutton noted that significant progress has been made in the regulation of consumer credit since 2006.. The OFT is now a much more effective conduct regulator than it was – he highlighted the OFT release of new guidance on debt management, saying it was more comprehensive and that it would help to tackle some unacceptable practices in that market. He said that the reform of consumer credit regulation presented an opportunity to simplify the regime and make it more accessible for lenders, advice agencies and consumers. But that it was vital that ancient evils were not resurrected in the process.