Pay-day debts battle victory

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MAKERFIELD’S MP has won a key victory in her long battle against loan sharking.

The Government have now agreed to rewrite an important section of the Financial Services Bill (FSB) now winding through Parliament to stop ‘super complaints’ from being brought by the lender’s own trade bodies.

Under the Enterprise Act 2002, super complaints can be made by designated consumer groups and remain, Yvonne Fovargue told The Commons, an “excellent tool” for raising issues of mass consumer detriment.

Most recently Britain’s leading consumer champion group Which? secured a ban on excessive debit and card charges after a super complaint highlighted the lack of transparency and high price of the charges which cost consumers millions of pounds a year.

Mrs Fovargue successfully argued that the emerging FSB would have undermined the success and legitimacy of the Enterprise Act.

The wording of the Bill, she pointed out, could be interpreted as allowing trade bodies - which represent firms - to bring super complaints.

She maintained that super complaints were not designed as a tool for industry.

And that they already have a clear avenue of complaint to the regulator and therefore, should not be allowed to “hijack” this important aspect of consumer protection.

The minister accepted her argument and will now bring forward a revision to the Bill to reflect Labour’s amendment.

Ms Fovargue, who has fought the damaging effects of loan sharks as a former chief executive of Citizen’s Advice for a quarter of a century before entering Parliament, said that under current legislation, ‘super complaints’ can only be used by bodies that “genuinely” represent consumers.

She said: “The Bill could have widened the groups who have this power to include trade bodies hijacking the system from consumers to firms.”

“I am pleased that the minister agreed that these powers should not be available to bodies representing professional businesses and investors but should remain as a powerful tool for true consumer representatives like Which? and Citizens Advice.”