Credit Card Market Study fails consumers says Panel

 

The FCA’s final findings from its credit card market study show that consumers do not always choose the best credit card for their circumstances. They cannot effectively compare the different cards available; only one in five considered the balance transfer fee associated with an introductory offer; and one in five who paid interest on their main credit card in the previous year did not expect to do so when they took it out.

In 2014 about two million credit card holders were in arrears or had defaulted. The FCA estimated a further two million were struggling to repay persistent credit card debts, and that another 1.6 million people were repeatedly making minimum payments on their credit card debt, incurring interest charges. Over five million accounts - on current repayment patterns and assuming no further borrowing - would take more than ten years to pay off.

According to StepChange Debt Charity, credit card debt is the single biggest cause of problem debt, with two thirds of their clients having at least one card, and average debt of over £8,000. Last year, 14 million people suffered a shock to their income or a change in circumstances and 4.5 million of them used credit to cope.

 

Sue Lewis, Chair of the Financial Services Consumer Panel said:

“We do not agree that the FCA’s evidence shows that competition is ‘working fairly well for most consumers’. The litany of consumer confusion and misery set out in the report warranted tougher action. Yet the FCA has swept aside the concerns previously expressed by consumer bodies and apparently allowed the industry to write its own remedies, even including a statement from trade body the UK Cards Association in its report. Unsurprisingly, then, almost every single remedy entails bombarding consumers with information that they are expected to process and act on, with no evidence they have the capacity to do so.

This is a wholly inadequate response to the consumer problems the FCA found, problems that will get worse if the economy weakens. It is also in stark contrast to the tough and swift action the regulator took on high-cost short-term credit.

The FCA’s market study has not addressed the core problem of over-lending by firms. The best way to prevent problem debt is to stop firms lending to people who cannot afford to repay. By looking at affordability separately the FCA has left the job of protecting consumers half done. We hope that will change soon, and that the regulator will take tough action against all firms that lend irresponsibly.”

 

ENDS

 

 

 

 

 

MEDIA ENQUIRIES:

 

Maria João Paixão (Consumer Panel):                                 020 7066 7716

 

NOTES TO EDITORS:

 

  1. The Consumer Panel is a statutory body under the Financial Services Act 2012.  It was initially established by the Financial Services Authority in December 1998.
  2. The Panel advises the FCA on the interests and concerns of consumers.  The Panel is independent. Its views are its own and do not represent those of the FCA.
  3. The Panel’s membership is drawn from a broad range of backgrounds with expertise including market research, law, financial services industry, financial inclusion, European Regulation, financial regulation, consumer advice, campaigning, communications, compliance and later-life issues. 
  4. The emphasis of the Panel's work is on activities that are regulated by the FCA, although it may also look at the impact on consumers of activities outside but related to the FCA's remit. More information about the Panel's work is available on its website: www.fs-cp.org.uk or via its LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

 

Sue Lewis (Chair)

Dominic Lindley

Caroline Barr

Pamela Meadows

Teresa Fritz

Faith Reynolds

Liz Barclay

Jeff Salway

Mark Chidley

Doug Taylor

Sharon Collard

Kitty Ussher

Jennifer Genevieve

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 26 July 2016