Britain’s voters and personal debt – a wake-up call for parliamentary candidates

More than one in ten of Britain’s voters has a personal debt problem. Yet, we’ve heard very little said about debt from any of the political parties. Our mountain of personal debt seems, to us, not to feature in political debate.

More than one in ten of Britain’s voters has a personal debt problem. Yet, we’ve heard very little said about debt from any of the political parties. Our mountain of personal debt seems, to us, not to feature in political debate. Just as it appears the politicos are hiding from us the costly steps they will have to take to deal with Britain’s bank-rescue induced deficit, so it seems they are hiding from the fact that they are about to try to raise taxes from a nation where millions of people just can’t afford to pay.

It’s about time politicians took steps to help people who genuinely want to do something about their debt and in my next blog I’ll throw a few ideas into the ring.

For now, however, lets just inject some facts into the debate. I took a sample of 16,056 people from our database of people struggling with debt and looked at how things had changed between October 2008 and March 2009 and October 2009 to March 2010 (that’s the latest data we have).

Bearing in mind this data relates to people so worried about their debt that they come to us and ask for help, the top line is this:

  • These people owe (just in credit card debts and unsecured loans – NOT the mortgage), on average, £22,061 (that’s £4,774 less than they owed in 08-09).
  • If they were to use all their spare income (that not spent on essentials) they would take on average, 39 months to repay their unsecured debt (that’s unrealistically low – I have had to assume that their creditors are charging no interest).
  • Finally, homeowners who wish to repay their unsecured debt from the equity in their home would be able, on average, to do so and still have a surplus of £8,391. That’s a huge turn round from last year – when they had an average negative equity of £7,812.

Now, before you run away thinking that these figures show that things are getting better, think on.

The number of people asking us for debt help increased by 13% between the two periods. So, I think what we are seeing is more people, with lesser debts, seeking help than ever before. For me, Britain’s personal debt issues are getting more intractable – not less.

Things vary widely from town to town, too: Britain’s most indebted place is Harrogate – with average unsecured debt of £41,667, taking 42 months to repay. Six of the ten least indebted places are in Scotland. The least indebted places are London (West Central) and London (East Central) – but I tend to ignore those simply because central London data is so variable (all those bankers bonuses – doncha’know).

Here are our top tens (you can download the data in Google Docs spreadsheet below giving our complete lists of debt data for the United Kingdom)

Google Docs 75 Kb

Dear candidates, we think,wherever you are standing, these will convince you personal debt is an issue that is big enough to make a difference to your vote.

Tell others:



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  1. The recent Global recession was not only caused by Banks extending themselves, (no more boom and bust) politicians of all persuasion here and in America where well aware that there was a problem with dirivitives credit default swaps and the sub prime motgage market yet they said nothing.
    We should get banks to write off at least 75% of personal debt and clear the decks with regard to credit ratings.
    This will never happen if we stick with the current three party system, vote Independant Candidates into power and it can be done.

  2. At the beginning of the Noughties, some of us in the UK fought long and hard to bring the excesses of the City to the public’s attention. Those of us that uncovered massive data losses by banks and the subsequent defrauding of customers being hushed-up with the connivance of the FSA, the Legal System, and Government, had an inkling of what was coming next. The relaxation of governance, as a means of maintaining consumer demand, shifted the burden of debt from the public to the private purse, a political con-trick copied from the U.S. on an epic scale.

    That the lack of governance evolved to widespread establishment corruption should shake to the core the faith that we place in our constitution. But of course it won’t, since my personal experience is that media editors will wilt under the threat of legal action and the withdrawal of advertising from a bank and, if they do try to resist, then a newspaper’s owners are only a golf club away from the quiet word of an influential player of The Game. So, although some will blush and point the finger at bankers as being responsible for the current crisis, the connivance and the profit have their roots deep within the Establishment…

  3. As the SNP Westminster Candidate for Paisley and Renfrewshire South at the forthcoming general election, I want to make it clear that I would make assistance to those in debt a priority. As you say it can be life changes which can affect us all which can throw people into debt. Most of us are only a few paychecks away from homelessness.

    I have close family relatives who have been in that position and as well as improving their fiscal and legal status. I also feel strongly about promoting the credit union movement as an ethical alternative to the high street banks. My wife and I are members and we have never regretted it.

  4. Hi,

    I just answered your PPC survey – I’m an independent candidate standing in Hackney South and Shoreditch. I notice that east London features in a few of your lists, and indeed I have debt issues myself at present.

    I just wanted to you let you know that although I answered ‘yes’ to all your questions, the nature of my political platform (direct digital democracy) means that my personal support for your aims would have to gain the majority approval of my constituents before I would lend my political support to it. However, given the problems Hackney faces with poverty (one of the highest rates in London), I don’t think anyone is likely to object to me following through on my stated intent here.


    PS: Make sure you contact Alessandra Williams, an independent running in Hackney North and Stoke Newington. She’s standing on an explicit anti-poverty platform, and I’m sure she will be interested to talk to you.

  5. As a member of a credit union and an active co-operative party member I would be looking to campaign on reducing income inequality as a first priority and promoting caps on lending rates

  6. The way our economy operates encourages debt through excessive consumption ,on the one hand and inadequate incomes ,on the other. The banking system perversely thrives people’s debts.

    The Green Party would ultimately seek to give people basic financial security by providing everyone with a Citizens Income and reform banking so that it did not exploit people through debt.

    In the meantime the the measures suggested would help to prevent people receiving further financial and emotional kickings when they loose their jobs or become incapacitated etc

    Mike Shone Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Stafford.

  7. Many people get into debt through no fault of their own, banks pile on interest and fees when it is clear they are putting the recipients into more debt which they cannot afford and more stress which affects their health and ability to work etc… I am not saying people should get out of repaying what they owe, but it could be done with a lot more sympathy and understanding on the banks part…

    Most people who are in debt are honest, upright decent folk who have just through circumstances got into debt and are struggling to find a way out…

    getting heavy handed and involving the courts and Bailiffs serves very little purpose, but I strongly believe that Banks should be forced to sell property for the going market rate and not some knocked down price.

    Andy Rankine – Lib Dem Candidate, Hyndburn Constituency

  8. I would also want to introduce legislation to ban loan companies from levying rates above bank lending rates, preferableygetting rid of loan sharks altogether, and certainly regulating, prosecuting, and controlling this trade with the utmost force and rigour

    It is also time , I think, for safety measures such as a limit on the number of cards any one can carry – there are so many people it seems who have multiple credit cards, and whose borrowing gets completely out of control as a result. Just make it not possible would be the simplest way

  9. Dear All,
    Clearly, the recent rise in unemployment and the cutting of working hours for many people will tend to increase debt. Restricted access to credit is also a problem for the self-employed and small businesses. We have an economic system that supports those with significant amounts of capital and – generally speaking – makes life difficult for the bottom 20% of households by income.

    Green Party policy includes a £8.10 minimum wage, a raising of the National Insurance and tax thresholds and higher taxes on the highest paid. Gross inequality in our society has been tolerated for too long. Reducing personal debt must begin by lifting households out of poverty, including indexing the new minimum wage rate to the rate of inflation.
    best wishes
    Steve Dawe
    GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE, Tonbridge and Malling

  10. I believe banks and credit card companies have a moral duty to customers, running alongside that of their shareholders, to help people in financial difficulty. I hope that in time the banks and creditcard companies will be more equitable to their customers.

  11. Apropos of what Robin Harper, above, says: I have no brief for loan sharks – but I do have a problem with banning high interest loan providers completely. Sadly, they fulfil a role – but only because the big banks won’t help the socially and financially excluded. And, the rates the high interest providers charge seem, unfortunately, to be realistic – the best of the mutual sector don’t think they could beat them. For me, the solution is to twist the big bank’s arms into helping these people.

    The problem is that there are many financial untouchables (funts) who the mainstream banks won’t touch – I was recently at a government meeting where I questioned the British Bankers Association representative and he admitted his members (the mainstream banks) did not have the expertise to lend to this sector. That should be phooey: He did have the grace to look a little embarrassed. Credit Unions, too, have told government that they could not lend to these people at rates below those offered by the high interest providers, because of the risk of non-payment: They don’t have shareholders – but they do have a responsibility to their members.

    The problem is that a lot of the financially excluded only seek a loan when desperate (new tyres and an MOT so they can get to work, etc) and they try to pay back quickly – hence the Pay Day loans phenomenon, where the APR looks hideous, but it is actually no more usurious than “lend me a tenner and I’ll buy you a pint at the end of the month”. When people see the high interest providers as sources of long-term or rolling credit, that’s where they get shafted. Pay it back in a month or to and high cost credit, sadly, performs a useful function.

    It’s still completely unfair though and the opportunity only exists because the mainstream banks won’t lend: I damn well think they should be forced to and accept the risk as part of the price they pay for the profits they make. – see my personal blog for more:

  12. I agree with Andrew Hutchinson about the moral duty to customers – but would like to see banks and credit card companies forced to take a co-operative, rather than an competitive approach to debt recovery.

    If you have seven creditors and are struggling with debt then you are likely to be getting 20 plus telephone calls a day from their autodiallers.

    Creditors should be required to assess their debtors complete credit profile and to suggest a solution that deals with all their customer’s debt. And they should recognise when a debtor is bust – and help them deal with it, rather than try to extract the last penny towards their debt alone.

  13. I would also like to penalise the banks for irresponsible lending. My 17 year old son was given a £1300 credit limit on a card when earning £60 pw. Some of the resposibility must go to the bank.

  14. I have been aware of personal debt for some time and wrote a letter about this to the local Sentinel newspaper over a year ago, making the point that it is not only banks but us people who also have been too eager to borrow too much. I am not opposed to borrowing, but it had been too unregulated and therefore people allowed it to become excessive.
    I am also concerned about people at the bottom end of the financial scale who have understandably got into debt to get things and do things which the majority take for granted. They have then been exploited by ruthless doorstep lenders. As a local councillor I supported the setting up of a Credit Union in North Staffordshire and was among the first to pledge and contribute funds to get it started.
    I also subscribe to Church Action on Poverty which has long campaigned for a curb on lending rates.

    Nigel Jones
    Liberal Democrat Parliamentary
    Candidate, Newcastle-under-Lyme

    1. Nigel, I applaud your action on borrowing – but what about those who have debts they can’t repay and can see no positive route out of debt without becoming financially disenfranchised? We need to force banks to treat people who do their best to repay debt more positively than those who can, but don’t. And we need to find new routes top help those whose situation is impossible too.

  15. The Banks penalise those who get into debt. After giving easy credit they change the rules and interest to claim more from the debtor. They are global loan sharks.
    They refuse to be controlled or abide by rtegulation so they should taken into public ownership.

  16. My comment about loan sharks of course concerns those people who get into the most terrible mess and there needs to be a better government supported system to help them out.
    Regarding those who get into difficulty with the banks, then of course where the banks have played a part in allowing the unpayable debt to be incurred they should help them out; for example by extending the loan period.
    I think my comments showed there are ways of preventing the worst situations occuring, by setting up alternatives to the banks.

    Nigel Jones

    1. Nigel, absolutely agree that a return to the mutual ethic will make sensible credit available to more, probably with appropriate discipline and control, But, even the credit union movement says it could only loan to the most disenfranchised on terms similar to the highest interest loan providers like Provident.

      I’m concerned that 11% of adults in the UK already have a debt problem they can’t cope with. As individuals we owe £1.4billion. There are millions who can’t repay what they owe and, whilst it’s vital we put education and controls in place to stop others following in their footsteps we have to do something to get these millions back to the point where they are debt free and able to create a secure financial future for themselves, get a pension, etc.

      We need action to motivate these people to deal with their debt. Those who take a responsible attitude to repaying what they can genuinely afford need to know they will not be penalised by the banks in the same way that people are who just don’t bother.

  17. As a Green Party Candidate, I have lived on Income Support and Job Seekers Allowance and – thankfully – was never granted a credit card. But living on a low income can also incur debts and I have had similar experiences to those now facing their own crisis.
    Government intervention by the Conservatives, via Mrs Thatcher who freed-up regulations and positively encouraged people into using Credit cards. This, coupled with the Credit Crunch has meant some have found themselves in untenable situations, needing support.
    The Green Party would ultimately seek to give people basic financial security by providing everyone with a Citizens Income and reform the banks into a two-tier system, separating ‘risky’ investment institutions from High Street banks dealing with local savers and supporting local business.
    Roisin Robertson
    Green Party Parliamentary Candidate, Bromley & Chislehurst

  18. I am fully supportive of your campaign and have 1st hand experience of aggresive tactics used.

    When the banks found themselves in difficulty, they had the luxury of being “bailed out” by the taxpayer. Unfortunately, individuals do not have such a luxury.

    Good luck and kind regards to all

    Paul English
    Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate

    1. Hi Paul,

      Some say that the banks are hanging onto the money they had from the taxpayer and are not releasing it to viable small businesses and/or private individuals. I don’t know if this is the case – but they certainly now have a huge moral duty to citizens as well as shareholders. And I think that duty would be well expressed by not disenfranchising those who have been over sold credit or have seen life changes that make that credit unaffordable – and who do their best to repay what they owe.

      Thanks for your support.

  19. We must not forget the huge effects of high taxation. The Revenue forces many bankrupcies. I was canvasing today and met a retired MOD civil servant who has received a £5000 tax demand because the IR claims the MoD made an error in his PAYE tax code 12 Yrs ago. He paid £4500 only to be told the amount had now been recalculated at £16000!
    ukip campaigns for a simpler tax system and a £11500 tax free allowance. It is not only banks that need to be tamed but the government bureaucratic machine so that taxation can be cut.
    Barry Harding. Ukip candidate Somerton and Frome

  20. The English Democrats agree that we should separate out the retail banking sector from investment banking to avoid the banks ever again being able to “play roulette” with ordinary taxpayers’ money. In addition, it is appalling that when the Bank of England baserate is only 0.5% the credit card companies are charging massively inflated percentage rates on credit card borrowing (in some cases well into the 20+ percent bracket) They have actively encouraged those who cannot necessarily afford credit to take it and hence must share some of the blame and cost of redressing the issue. There should be government intervention to cap interest rates on such forms of credit.

    Elaine Cheeseman
    English Democrats candidate
    Old Bexley & Sidcup

  21. We at UKIP believe the Managers of these banks should not be getting these large dividends . and we must not forget these high tax on wages,we believe at UKIP we should have a simple tax system and a £11.500 tax free allowance.

    John White,
    Mid Worcestershire PPC UKIP.

  22. John White,

    Isn’t the UKIP policy a 33% flat tax on salary? That’s considerably higher than the 25% basic rate that most people on normal salaries (less than £37k) pay now, so it looks to me like you’re only going to save people money if they earn well in excess of £50,000 a year. There aren’t many people on that kind of money in my area.


    1. Dear All,

      Much has been said about preventing people getting into future debt, encouraging banks to be more sensible in their lending policies, etc. But, nobody is saying much about the plight of current debtors.

      More than one in ten of the people about to vote for you have consumer debt problems. We owe £1,464 billion. The countries GDP is around £1,700 billion.

      Excessive consumer debt is a nightmare few acknowledge – what do we have to do to get the problems of people who can’t deal with their debt NOW taken seriously?

  23. Andrew,

    My election platform could be called populist – I intend to let people raise issues through a website, and vote on which they consider most important – so if this is a key issue to more than 10% of the population then it should come nice and high in my list of priorities.

    As I said earlier, I have a bit of a debt problem myself at present, so it’s certainly a cause I’m sympathetic to personally.

    Denny de la Haye

    Independent candidate for Hackney South and Shoreditch

  24. Andrew (23April) refers to the Credit Union movement having to lend to disenfranchised people at rates like that of Provident.
    I have checked that this only applies to instant loans made to people unknown to the Credit Union. So in practice they would advise them not to take such a loan and work with such people, get them to save a little for up to 3months and then they would offer them loans at rates which are about 1 tenth of the rate charged by Provident.

    Nigel Jones

    1. Nigel, that’s very good to know, and, I guess would mean it would be appropriate advice to suggest people in that position save with a credit union so they have access to credit if an emergency occurs – otherwise they’d still be stuck.

  25. As the Candidate for Gillingham and Rainham English Democrats i would actively challenge the way debt is dealt with, It is outrageous that business and local authorities can see many people are making every effort to control their finances and pay priority debts but are being prosecuted under ridiculous ACTS and not LAWS, people in debt are not criminals they are simply trying to survive and should be dealt with respectfully and sensible, not forced into further debt.

    1. Hello Dean,

      We agree with you – a good first step would be to require creditors to deal with debtors co-operatively, rather than competitively: Once it is known that an individual has a number of debts they can’t afford they creditors should look to make an arrangement with the debtor, together, rather than each scrambling on the others’ shoulders to push the debtor into paying her/his last penny just to them.

  26. Denny
    At present people pay National Insurance at 11% as soon as they earn £97 per week
    UKIP plans to scrap NI as a separate tax (which is what it is) and incorporate it in the Flat Tax at 31% (not 33% as you state).
    No-one will be subject to tax deductions before they earn £11500 pa (£221.15 per week).
    Furthermore UKIP wants to phase out Employers’ NI because it penalises firms that want to take on new employees, so is a tax on jobs.
    I am an agent for two UKIP candidates.

  27. As a candidate for the SNP in West Dunbartonshire which over the last twenty years has descended to be the third most deprived area in Scotland I am acutely aware of the problem.

    I also own the largest conveyancing practice in Scotland so I see at first hand how homes are used a cash cows to fund unrelated capital raising, debt consolidation, etc.

    Remortgaging is actually a very expensive way to “reduce” debt. When everything is taken into consideration, it doesn’t. An accumulation of fees, additional broker charges, etc. coupled with mortgage churning every 2 or 3 years adds to the mortgage burden . Unlike in times past mortgage debt which would otherwise be repaid at retirement age is now for millions of people a continuing and growing burden when people get older. This state of affairs will have as severe consequences as the reduction in value of pension funds, savings, etc.

    I just wonder if capital raising on your home for non housing related matters should be permitted.

    For some years in the run up to the Credit Crunch banks cared little about their existing customers asl bonuses were geared to new businesses.
    A statutory reappraisal is required whereby bank bonuses are determined according to the judgement of bank customers ( both savers and borrowers) in local areas on an annual basis. Such a scheme would restore the personal link and understanding which bank managers should have with their customers

  28. We are particularly worried about companies charging huge interest rates on short term loans. We think that banks should be smaller and we need more mutual societies.

    PS I’m Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Stourbridge.

  29. Whilst I support your efforts to help those in debt who have and are making GENUINE efforts to live within their means, I think it has become far too easy for people to overspend, and then to think they can just write off their debts.

    As in many things in life, this subject is delicately balanced.

    Bob Edwards
    UKIP candidate for Central Devon

  30. The level of personal debt is a symptom of the financialisation of the British economy. Over the past 30 years, there has been a significant fall in the share of wages and salaries in GDP, and a corresponding increase in the share of profits, particularly in the banking sector. Reduced wages mean reduced purchasing power, so people have sought to borrow to maintain their standard of living – a process fostered by the banks as it is a means of getting a much higher and shorter-term return on money advanced than if the investment went into manufacturing industry. But then the interest payments take further purchasing power out of the economy, so eventually the whole house of cards must crash – as it did in 2008 – though with the super-wealthy taking their superprofits, and the majority of working people having to pay.

    My party, the Communist Party of Britain, argues that one of the first things that has to be done is to increase the share of wages and salaries in the economy, and reduce the share of profits. State pensions and benefits also need to be increased. This will reduce, though not eliminate, the need for people to rely on credit. But the banks also have to start serving the public interest, and not just those of the super-rich. Why should the government just bail out those on the verge of crashing, while others who have done well out of speculation get away scot-free? The banking, insurance and mortgage monopolies should be taken fully into democratic public ownership, and their operations directed towards investment in productive industry, small and co-operative enterprises and first-time home ownership.

  31. I recently investigated on behalf of a local man a situation where he took a full time job at the minimum wage and immediatley through the post received letters from 2 companies offering him credit card facilities up to £14.000 each and subsequently the same offer from 2 more.Fortunately he did not take up the offer with any of them.
    We in UKIP believe strongly that the first £11,500 a person earns is tax free and this will immediatly help with the problem.
    Often those affected could pay the loan but not the very high interest rate,
    so we clearly need to help those who are genuinely trying to pay the loans back.Banks have a duty to individuals
    Jeff Beer,
    UKIP Candidate for theTotnes Constituency

  32. As a long time supporter of credit unions and of reform I am more than happy to support ClearDebt’s parliamentary campaign and if elected will do my utmost to assist in supporting any new legislation through the house

  33. I’ve just taken your PPC Survey.
    Before the recent economic and credit crash , people were encouraged and pushed to take on more and more credit. Many decent, honest people now find themselves struggling to cope. Banks and credit card companies have behaved irresponsibly , and should be made to assist people in debt by providing a structured exit route out that debt. I am happy to fully support your campaign.

    Tom Snowdon
    Liberal Democrat Candidate for Amber Valley

  34. The irresponsibility of the credit companies in their lending, and even increasing rates at a time when bank rates are at an all time low shows just where they stand with regard their customers. They do not care. Legislation is needed to ensure they are ‘bound’ to care and to therefore support some of those who were ‘teased and tempted’ into debt beyond their means. Many things can happen redundancy, illness etc to cause unforseen problems and when banks needed support the people were there in the guise of the government so they must tow the line when situations are reversed.
    Adrian Haynes
    UKIP Parliamentary Candidate Wellingborough

  35. As a city councillor I have worked with colleagues to strengthen the Credit Union in York. It is absolutely wrong that people are forced into the arms of loans sharks. Government must work to prevent banks loaning people more than they can afford to repay. This is long running issue – the advent of credit cards in the late 1980’s triggered a sequence of events where everyone lost sight of the fact that you cannot spend money you don’t have. Debt levels are not helped by the tuition fees students have to pay and the debts they incur before they even start to find a job. Liberal Democrats are committed to scrapping tuition fees, over the course of six years, starting immediately with final year students.

  36. There have been some very thoughtful comments posted, many very helpful. UKIP policy on fairer tax for low paid (no tax on minimum wage and phasing out NI) will help – both those in debt and help prevent it building up.Replacing student loans with grants again will help retrain attitudes to debt. I don’t think it is healthy that young people start their working life with a debt burden. We need to change the consumerist instant gratification culture for a society which once again values saving rather than spend now,pay later. These things take time – we have a mess which needs cleaning up now, loan sharks,inflexible terms that don’t take account of the individual, I look forward to helping support those who are genuinely trying to pay but need the terms varying.
    Back in the last recession we were trying to establish our business. I had no savings (all spent on our overpriced home), we’d remortgaged and had an overdraft to support the business- at eyewatering interest rates by today’s standards (but nothing like loan sharks and no threats of violence if we didn’t pay, just repossession)No slack for things like mending the washing machine or a wedding present for my brother. Luckily I had my barclaycard from better times – which I avoided using normally. It made me very aware that someone who had always been poor wouldn’t have that safety net.Oh yes – and the taxman, no change there then, even if it’s their mistake they don’t care, wouldn’t wait 3 months for my husband to get his redundancy pay so he had to get a bankloan to bridge the gap.

    (UKIP candidate for East Surrey)

  37. Writing as the Green Party candidate for Shipley, I would stress our commitment to significant increases in the state pension, in help for families, help for the working poor and huge additional government investment in the economy and in sustainable jobs.

    All of these measures will help to aleviate poverty and, indirectly, help to prevent people from accumulating debt.

    Full details can be found in our manifesto at:

    Very best wishes,

    Kevin Warnes

    1. I should just like to point out, again, that it appears there are many worthwhile plans to help people who don’t, at the moment, have debts they can’t afford to repay.

      But 11% of the people about to vote for you all are struggling with unaffordable debt. That seems a large enough figure to make this a national crisis.

      What proposals do the party’s have to help people who have been oversold credit or whose not-their-fault life changes mean they can no longer afford to repay. Or do we sit by and let millions go bust?

  38. Debt is a problem for many families and the route causes of this problem need to be addressed that is why UKIP is committed to do three very important things for families.
    Raise tax threshold to £11,500 (This is the amount of tax free earnings including any benefits that are not taxed)
    A 31% Flat tax (this inludes Employee NI Contributions) from £11,501
    Increase familiy allowance to £39.00/Week for each of the first three children.

    We will also returned to a system of University Grants to minimise student debt.

    Financial institutions must ensure that, when releasing credit, the customer can repay it or provide protection for the debt.

    Alan Baugh UKIP Candidate Great Yarmouth

  39. I have been concerned about debt and the impact it has only many individuals and families in the UK. This is why I support the Credit Union Movement and also Debt Rescue and Money Advice services. Further regulation of the banking sector would be a helpful way of helping people get out of debt.

  40. I am very much aware of the stark plight of those many debtors who find themselves unable to repay. Having been forced into bankruptcy some years ago by a Tory peer, backed by Conservative ministers (Hurd and King), I know how helpless one can feel.

    At the same time, it is hard to envisage how an effective law compelling firms to lend money (for whatever reason) would work. After all, an institution issuing loans which were not repaid could itself swiftly become a debtor! Could some ameliorated form of bankruptcy law do the trick?

  41. Whilst support for people who get into debt we need to make sure they dont have to be there in the first place. One of the steps we could make and Lib Dems have a manifesto committment to this – is to put an end to unfair charges and cap interest rates on credit/store cards.

  42. Not enough is done to protect young people from the behaviour of banks and the issuers of credit cards and store cards. I was particularly appalled when a young person already seriously indebted told me that on visiting their high street bank for assistance, they had come out with a payment protection package they didn’t need and an additional debt. I’m aware that organisations such as Citizens Advice have been working on issues of young people and debt, but it’s nowhere near high-profile enough as a national campaign. Personal financial education is also vital; store cards with APRs of 30% and more continue to be issued and to entrap young people in debt they can’t afford.

  43. I am very concerned about the plight of people in debt. I support Credit Unions, and a cap on interest rates on store cards and credit cards.

    Les Jones

    Liberal Democrat ppc
    Morecambe and Lunesdale

  44. I’ve completed the survey as Green PPC for Wansbeck – but as Chair of Northumberland Credit Union, I’d also like to trumpet the good work credit unions are doing, and highlight the need for close cooperation and understanding between debt advisers and credit unions.

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