More regulation ‘would not help people in debt’

The trade body warned that new legislation or the introduction of a regulatory agency would only hinder efforts to help people needing debt advice.

Low interest rates, easy access to money and a relaxed attitude to borrowing have seen many people let their finances get out of control.

With personal debt topping £1 trillion, former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith included the issue in his social justice policy review, published yesterday.

The report included a wide range of measures aimed at fixing Britain’s “broken society”, including new regulation for the banking sector.

“The voluntary banking code should be replaced by a statutory customers’ charter,” the report suggests. “Ending self-regulation and holding banks accountable by law.”

In response, the BBA argued that the banking code made sufficient provision for supporting people with debt problems and noted that 37 per cent of unsecured lending in 2006 came from non-banks.

“If a charter similar to the code were applied to these non-bank lenders, it may be a sensible first step to ensuring borrowers in trouble are helped with sensitivity and sympathy,” said BBA chief executive Angela Knight.

“It is unclear how imposing a further regulatory layer would help people who may be in need of urgent financial advice and assistance,” Ms Knight added.

The Conservative party has not yet committed itself to adopting any of the proposals put forward by Mr Duncan Smith.

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