Thank you for contacting me about families in debt. This is a matter that is a great concern of mine – I am a member of the “Financial Inclusion Commission” which has (successfully) lobbied for the Government to take up the issue of a “breathing space”. I raised this issue in an “Adjournment Debate” which I tabled before Christmas and spoke on it again when the Single Financial Guidance Bill came before the House of Commons earlier this year.
The Government is committed to introducing 'breathing space' that would give heavily indebted consumers a period of respite from enforcement action and further interest and charges, for a period of up to six weeks. Ministers have launched a call for evidence to gain as much insight as possible from lenders, the debt advice sector and other stakeholders about how best to design a breathing space scheme. This consultation closes on 16th January 2018.
A number of steps have also been taken to reform consumer credit, including taking action on high-cost short-term credit, and a comprehensive Financial Conduct Authority study into the credit card market.
In 2016-17 the Money Advice Service put £45 million towards debt advice in the UK, which funded over 380,000 appointments. However I believe that It is important to improve the help and advice available to those who may face debt problems and I hope that the new guidance body which the Government proposes will help us achieve this objective.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.