In the surgeries which I have held around East Hampshire, I have heard first-hand the true human cost of problem debt: the stress, relationship breakdowns and the mental health problems that can result. It is an issue I feel strongly about, and I have called for many changes which have now been implemented to promote responsible lending and community finance.
I was a co-sponsor of the High Cost Credit Bill, and supported the cross-party payday charter that followed it in 2013, which was launched to call for measures to ensure that the £7.5bn payday loans and home credit sector treats consumers more fairly, and stop high-cost lenders taking advantage of those in financial trouble. The Government responded to this with tougher regulations on payday lenders.
As a past Chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on credit unions I have seen at first-hand the positive role that credit unions can play, in both offering responsible lending, but also promoting savings. Finding even a small amount of surplus money to put away for a rainy day is extremely difficult for many, but I support ways to make it at least a little easier, including employer-sponsored save-as-you-earn schemes and so-called jam jar accounts that help budgeting. You can read my Westminster Hall Speech on Jam Jar banking here.