Clampdown on doorstep loans call by Citizens Aadvice

Protection is vital
Protection is vital

People taking out a doorstep loan should have the same protections as payday loan customers, which could save people millions of pounds worth of interest collectively every year, according to Citizens Advice.

More than 1.6 million people use these loans in the UK, making it one of the largest high-cost credit markets, the charity said.

Its modelling found consumers end up paying back more than twice what they borrowed on up to 490,000 doorstep loans - also known as home credit loans - each year due to refinancing.

The charity said the Financial Conduct Authority’s clampdown on the payday loans market in recent years has been a big success, meaning consumers generally are paying less for loans and are more able to repay on time.

The clampdown capped the overall cost of these loans to consumers among other measures aimed at preventing payday loan borrowers from becoming trapped in a debt spiral.

Citizens Advice wants to see the same protections extended to the doorstep lending market.

It estimates that extending the same rules to doorstep lending could save up to £123 million in interest payments on up to 540,000 loans each year.

It said home credit is the most common form of high-cost credit problem Citizens Advice deals with, with lenders charging interest rates of up to 1,557%.

Of the 30,000 people Citizens Advice helped with home credit debts in the last year, nearly half (48%) have a long-term health condition or disability and only a third (32%) were in employment.

Half of clients were in council tax arrears and 43% were behind on water bills.

On average, clients with home credit debts had unsecured (non-mortgage) debt totalling nearly half (49%) of their annual income.

A third (34%) had outstanding debt on two or more home credit loans.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “There’s no questioning the evidence - the FCA’s cap on payday lending has been a success.

“But it’s time now to address the problems consumers are facing in the home credit market.”