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Britain's growing debt burden

More than a million people seek debt advice every year Photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville

With spiralling living costs for the rest of us, this is boom time for payday lenders and debt management firms.

Today, MPs condemned opaque regulation and the impact on vulnerable, desperate and over-indebted consumers.

We interviewed Steve Perry who was a customer of payday lenders. He ended up with 20 loans and his debt spiralling out of control. He agrees tighter regulation of the industry is needed.

Today's House of Commons report highlights the scale of this market:

  • Doorstep Lenders now account for around £4bn of business - typical APR of 400%
  • Payday loan firms have a £2bn share of the market - typical APR of 2,500%
  • Pawnbrokers have grown to £2bn - typical APR of 100%

(Source: Office of Fair Trading)

The chairman of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, Adrian Bailey MP, says payday lenders and debt management firms are "high risk" and should be regulated as such.

Latest figures suggest around two million people a year take out payday loans. MPs on the Business Committee want limits on "rolling-over" - a practice that can vastly inflate the amount borrowers owe.

They also want to charge the loan firms higher licensing fees to reflect more intense checks they feel are needed. But the industry says that will harm consumers by adding to the cost of credit.

There are now more than a million consumers seeking debt advice every year. Commercial debt management companies make £250 million a year from over-indebted clients. MPs say they should no longer be able to charge up-front fees.

It's clear from today's report that firms that promise to ease your financial problems can end up adding to them.