My top pick of the week’s debt news is Fraud victims’ pay deducted for money they don’t owe.
Tweet of the week
— Jim Pickard (@PickardJE) December 19, 2020
FCA fines Barclays £26 million over treatment of customers in financial difficulty FCA: Between April 2014 and December 2018 some retail and small business customers who had been offered consumer credit were treated poorly when they fell into arrears. See my 2018 article on these refunds, which were paid out quietly with little press coverage: Barclays & Barclaycard refund thousands of customers in arrears.
Fraud victims’ pay deducted for money they don’t owe BBC: Criminal gangs steal people’s details to apply for advance payments of universal credit. The money is paid to them but the person whose identity has been stolen gets the bill. If the money is not repaid voluntarily the DWP instructs employers to deduct the money directly from salaries.
- Millions in UK struggling to pay internet and phone bills, says Ofcom Guardian: Regulator says some users have cut food spend to pay telecoms bills during Covid crisis.
- More than 2m UK households in arrears on energy bills Guardian: Citizens Advice says extra 600,000 customers have fallen behind on payments since February.
- ENERGY WHITE PAPER Powering our Net Zero Future gov.uk: We will expand the Warm Home Discount to around three million low income households until at least 2025/26 and will consult on reforms to the scheme to better target fuel poverty.
- Consultation Response: Consumer Council for Water Independent review of affordability support for financially vulnerable water customers Money Advice Trust: We think it is poor practice for energy and water providers to use HCEOs as it adds complexity, unnecessary stress and excessive court costs and collection fees for consumers who are likely to be in particularly vulnerable circumstances.
Northamptonshire County Council pays bailiffs for photocopier debt BBC: A cash-strapped council had to use a credit card to pay a bill of nearly £40,000 for photocopiers after bailiffs arrived at its head office.
Can consumers really lead the economy out of recession? FT (paywall): The better-off have seen savings soar, but poor households are often struggling with debt.
Why I’m backing the campaign to create a better ‘breathing space’ Wearedebtadvisers: “we as Debt Advisers are expected not only to administer it, but police it, review it and enforce it.”
Terrifying price tag of the buy now pay later boom: Instant checkout credit is tempting millions of shoppers… but few realise the costly pitfalls Mail: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is investigating four Instagram ‘influencers’ for pushing Swedish checkout lending giant Klarna as a way to lift spirits in lockdown.
UK subprime lenders face funding squeeze as COVID-19 fuels demand Reuters: Amigo’s debt maturing in Jan 2024 is trading at a cash price of 59 cents on the dollar — considered distressed territory — translating to a yield of over 27%.
Benefits & other news
COVID-19: For the first time in its history UNICEF will help feed children in the UK Sky news: UNICEF says it is the first time in its 70-year history that it has responded to a UK “domestic emergency”.
Earn £52, lose £3,500 — the madness of caring Times (paywall) Excellent rant on Carers Payments and Direct Payments. “By now you may well be wondering whether this is really as bad as I’m making out, because we don’t hear about it very often. That’s because carers and the disabled don’t have the time or the energy to complain or protest… And on top of that, do you actually care? No one really thinks they’ll ever be a carer, after all.”