August 2013

Councils and debt collection – wrong if they do, and wrong if they don’t...

Two current stories attracting national headlines have stopped us in our tracks, because they seemed to be suggesting that public sector organisations were being too efficient in collecting money that is owed to them.

The first reported that local councils had used bailiffs 1.8million times to collect debts on their behalf, while the second said that ten per cent of all prosecutions involve people who had not paid their TV licence.

New campaign against illegal money lenders in Wales

People living in Wales are being urged to report loan sharks – illegal money lenders – as part of a new campaign by trading standards teams.

Anonymous telephone, email and text lines are available to anyone who has fallen victim to illegal loan activity, and there is further online information from the Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit.  The telephone hotline number is 0300 123 3311.

When is a bailiff not a bailiff?

Recent Citizens Advice research among clients who “have a bailiff problem” sparked a debate here about how much people understand about bailiffs. 

These concerns were heightened by a tweet from a commercial debt adviser, which should know better, talking about debt collectors and bailiffs as if they were interchangeable terms.

They are not – and if debt advisers don’t know the difference, where does that leave ordinary people, whose life is complicated enough even before they fall into unmanageable debt?

Payday lending review of 50 companies down to 31 as firms retreat from the market

Updates from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have revealed that almost 40 per cent of payday lenders involved in its review of the industry have stopped offering these loans.

The OFT looked at the 50 largest operators in the field at the start of its review.  All were given 12 weeks to address any areas where their practices may have been non-compliant with regulations.

More than half of us are making ends meet

Despite rising prices, low returns on savings and pay freezes, it would appear that a majority of us are getting by financially, according to a survey of 2000 consumers.

The research, carried out for credit information company Equifax, suggests that just over half of respondents said they were “making ends meet” while 17% were struggling by the end of the month.  A quarter said they were “comfortable” with their finances.

Home repossessions fall in second quarter of 2013

The number of homes repossessed in the second quarter of this year fell by nearly four percent on the first three months of the year, according to latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).  Some 7,700 properties were repossessed in April, May and June, bringing the total back to the same as for the last three months of 2012.

At the end of June almost one and a half per cent of all mortgages – 157,700 loans - were in arrears of 2.5% or more of the balance. 

Treatment of payday borrowers could be grounds for formal complaint

An analysis by Citizens Advice of client cases involving payday lenders suggests that three quarters of them could have been sent to the Financial Ombudsman Service as formal complaints.

The cases included people being chased for repayments on loans they had not taken out, potential fraud cases and people being harassed with threatening messages despite offering payments.


Over 50s "worried they'll be forced to leave their homes"

A new economic survey of people in their early 50s suggests that as many as a quarter of the age group are worried that will be forced to move home to bring down rent or mortgage costs.

AgeUK’s Economic Tracker, which monitors the financial confidence of a group being termed “tomorrow’s pensioners” , suggests that, while this demographic might be expected to be at the peak of their earning power, less than 40 per cent are confident about their future.