Westminster Business Forum

For booking-related queries or information on speaking please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk, or contact us: +44 (0)1344 864796.

Next steps for consumer credit and the retail lending market - regulatory reform, innovation, and protecting vulnerable customers

July 2020

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference focuses on consumer credit and the retail lending market in the UK.

Delegates will discuss the impact on both consumers and lenders of recent reforms - and priorities going forward for:

  • policy to help those struggling with persistent debt
  • ensuring the availability of options for affordable borrowing

It will be an opportunity for stakeholders and policymakers to consider the issues as the FCA conducts its market study on the Credit Information Market.

We are pleased to include keynote contributions from Emma Lovell, Chief Executive, Lending Standards Board; Helen McCarthy, Head of Policy, Consumer Finance Association; Steve Coppard, Deputy Director, Government Debt Management Function, Cabinet Office; and Carlos Osorio, Director of UK Debt Recovery, TDX Group.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on household finances - so far and into the future - will also be discussed, as well mitigations to address the resulting consumer credit challenges.

We expect discussion on the FCA’s recent payment holiday proposals for credit card and personal loan providers which include:

  • guidance for how lenders should manage customers coming to the end of payment freezes and encourage them to access debt help that is available
  • ensuring any temporary financial support is does not negatively affect customers credit records
  • extending existing payment freezes and offering reduced payments on credit cards and personal loans for consumers in, or entering, financial difficulties during lockdown

It comes with the initial stages of the pandemic seeing the largest repayment in consumer credit since 1993 but with the coming months expected to bring increased pressure on households with a reported £64bn remaining in outstanding UK credit card debt.

The conference also takes place against a backdrop of significant wider policy reform including:

  • preparations for launch of the new national Breathing Space scheme, with:
    • additional funding allocated in the March Budget
    • The Insolvency Service working on the scheme’s digital component
  • the FCA reviewing the impact of measures - including the interest cap on Rent to Own products and changes to overdraft charges - introduced following last year’s review of high cost credit
  • first awards from the Affordable Credit Challenge Fund, to support collaboration between community lenders and fintech providers to develop innovations in access to affordable credit
  • the FCA’s recently published business plan for 2020/21 outlining their focus on:
    • ensuring consumers can access affordable credit and take control of their debt quickly and easily
    • tackling unregulated firms and those looking to take advantage of the impact the coronavirus

The discussion in detail:

The national Breathing Space scheme - looking at:

  • the design of the scheme
  • its likely impact
  • implementation challenges for lenders and debt advisors
  • how best to raise awareness of the scheme amongst those suffering with debt problems

The FCA’s high-cost credit review - and the initial impact on the consumers and the lending market of measures, including:

  • new rules restricting interest charged on unarranged overdrafts and ban additional fees for using an overdraft facility
  • limits on home-collected credit, greater transparency on catalogue and store cards, and rules on interest for buy-now-pay-later and rent-to-own
  • the case for further reforms, with the FCA due to publish a review of the measures introduced

The credit information market - key issues to be considered when the FCA’s new market study resumes, following its postponement due to the coronavirus crisis, relating to its focus on:

  • credit agency data and concerns that it might disproportionately affect vulnerable consumers
  • how competitive the market is
  • the efficiency of the market for both credit information users and individual consumers

The future shape of the market - with discussion expected on

  • the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic and the folding of major consumer lenders
  • community lenders and the possibility of an expanded role, with forthcoming legislation announced in the Budget to widen the range of products and services credit unions can provide
  • guidance required for buy-now pay-later and high-cost short-term credit
  • innovation, and the impact of open banking on competition in the market and access to credit for consumers

The agenda:

  • Consumer credit in the context of COVID-19 - with Dr Sarah Brown, Associate Professor of Law, University of Leeds
  • Protecting vulnerable customers - preparing for the breathing space scheme, overdraft restructuring, and developing further persistent debt remedies
  • Vulnerability - one standard for all debt? - with Steve Coppard, Deputy Director, Government Debt Management Function, Cabinet Office and Carlos Osorio, Director, UK Debt Recovery, TDX Group
  • Self-regulation - driving fair customer outcomes with industry - with Emma Lovell, Chief Executive, Lending Standards Board
  • Credit scoring and affordability for consumers - with Helen McCarthy, Head of Policy, Consumer Finance Association
  • The future make-up of the retail lending market - credit unions, open banking and buy now, pay later

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

This one looks no different. Places have been reserved by officials from the CMA; BEIS; HM Revenue & Customs; the Department for International Trade; the National Audit Office and the Department of Finance, Ireland.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles