Westminster Business Forum

Conferences that are scheduled to take place before September will be conducted online.
The format will mirror physical conferences organised by the Forum with speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish.
The conferences will be chaired and there will be opportunities for delegate questions and comments.
We will be contacting all participants in advance of each conference with full information and guidance on how to take part.
There will be some exceptions where conferences will be postponed, for instance those that would largely involve key stakeholders in the NHS or emergency services.
All participants affected by this will be informed as soon as possible.
If you’d like to speak to us over the phone about any booking-related queries, please call one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +044 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244

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

TO BE PUBLISHED July 2020


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


This conference will discuss the future for the consumer credit and the retail lending market in the UK.


Stakeholders and policymakers will discuss the impact of recent reforms for both consumers and lenders - and priorities going forward for policy to help those struggling with persistent debt and ensuring the availability of options for affordable borrowing.


There will be keynote contributions from Therese Chambers, Director of Retail Investigations, FCA; and Helen McCarthy, Head of Policy, Consumer Finance Association.


We also expect discussion to assess the impact - so far and into the future - of the COVID-19 pandemic on household finances and any mitigations required to address the resulting consumer credit challenges.


Why this is relevant now: the context:


The conference is scheduled to follow the expected publication of the FCA's market study on the Credit Information Market.


It also comes at a time of significant wider policy reform including:


  • Preparations for launch of the new national Breathing Space scheme, with:
    • additional funding allocated in the recent Budget, and
    • 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; and
  • 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, whilst also
    • tackling unregulated firms and those looking to take advantage of the impact the coronavirus.

The discussion also takes place as several local authorities have warned communities to be vigilant of illegal lenders as many face increasing financial pressures following the COVID-19 pandemic.


Areas for discussion:


  • The national Breathing Space scheme - looking at:
    • the design of the scheme,
    • its likely impact,
    • implementation challenges for lenders and debt advisors, and
    • 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, as well as
    • the case for further reforms, with the FCA due to publish a review of the measures introduced.
  • The FCA’s new market study on the credit information market - key issues to be considered when it 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, and
    • 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, and
    • innovation, and the impact of open banking on competition in the market and access to credit for consumers.

The agenda:


  • Retail lending regulation - the impact of the rent-to-own price cap, the credit information market study, and alternatives to high cost credit
  • Protecting vulnerable customers - preparing for the breathing space scheme, overdraft restructuring, and developing further persistent debt remedies
  • Credit scoring and affordability for consumers
  • Setting fair lending standards - combating price discrimination, providing affordable credit and preventing the growth of illegal lending
  • Assessing Scotland’s Debt Arrangement Scheme
  • The future make-up of the retail lending market - credit unions, open banking and buy now, pay later
  • Policy priorities for consumer credit

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 BEIS and the CMA.


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



Price: £95 PLUS VAT
Format: DOWNLOADABLE PDF


Shortly after every Westminster Business Forum seminar, a briefing document is produced. This is distributed to all delegates on the day as well as to our policymaker contacts in government, and to stakeholders more widely.

A seminar publication provides a timely record of proceedings, and acts as a guide to the latest thinking on current policy issues for those unable to be at the event.

This publication includes

Presentations

Contributions from keynotes and panellists, including accompanying slides*
*Subject to approval


Delegate Pack

Information from the day, including delegate list, biographies and agenda

Q&A

Transcript of questions and comments posed to speakers from attending delegates


Articles

Supplementary articles from speakers
and delegates