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Fee chargers under scrutiny at Select Committee 23 November 2011


Industry figures convened in Westminster to debate a range of debt management-related topics with the motives of some companies topping the bill.

Among the issues raised were the problem of debt management companies who appear to act as charities, the growth of pay-day lenders and the effectiveness of the current insolvency regime.

Represented in the debate were the Money Advice Trust (MAT), Consumer Focus Citizens Advice (CFCA) and the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS).

Speaking after the discussion, chief executive of the MAT, Joanna Elson, said: "The committee was particularly interested in the consumer detriment caused by bad practices in the fee-charging debt management sector, the micro and macro economic causes of debt problems, and the future regulation of the consumer credit industry."

Teresa Perchard, director of public policy at Citizens Advice, said: "As an advice provider there are a number of very significant issues currently being faced.  

"However, the resources we use to deliver debt advice are falling.  It would be very useful if these issues were highlighted - it’s really important that the fee-charging businesses deliver good quality and a fair price for the consumer."

Meanwhile, Professor Iain Ramsey, of the University of Kent – who also attended the debate – argued for more research to be undertaken into personal insolvencies.

Professor Ramsey – who counts credit and insolvency issues among his particular interests - added: "There is a sense the government has dropped the ball a bit in terms of rationalising the insolvency service given its relatively complex and piecemeal structure.

"I think the problem is there has not been a great deal of empirical research into insolvency.  There’s very little research into IVAs and how successful there are. We do have statistics but, compared to the United States, there is not a great evidence base."

It comes as recent statistics from the Insolvency Service revealed Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) and Debt Relief Orders (DROs) both rose in the last quarter.

And, according to figures from RSM Tenon, the number of women becoming solvent is it at its highest level ever.

By Andy Pearce



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