Regardless of the amount by which personal lending increases, what is important is the availability of help for those who get themselves into difficulty, and we may see an increase in the number of people in difficulty if interest rates rise towards the end of the year. I know that that would cause pain to a great many of our constituents, so it is important to get the system right now.
With a supportive FCA framework already in place, a fairly minor amendment to the Bill could effectively set a fee structure that would activate the provision of free debt management plans by authorised firms. I hope that my Front-Bench colleagues agree that action is needed soon, and that the Bill represents a timely vehicle for the necessary change.
I believe this to be a truly cross-party issue, and that the Bill needs to be amended to give people in debt more security and access to free, high-quality plans that help them to manage their finances. If interest rates do go up any time soon, the debt management sector may be called on to give even more support than it provides now, and this is therefore a good time to strengthen the system.