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Bank of England issues consumer credit warning

Bank of England

A surge in consumer credit could pose a risk to lenders if accompanied by weaker underwriting standards, the Bank of England has warned.

At a meeting on 22nd March, the Bank’s Financial Policy Committee (FPC) revealed UK household indebtedness remained high by historical standards and had begun to rise relative to incomes, with consumer credit growing particularly rapidly.

The FPC has now suggested that underwriting standards should be monitored closely, supporting a review launched by the PRA into the credit quality of new lending by regulated lenders.

The committee also backed an investigation by the FCA into rules and guidance on creditworthiness assessment used in the consumer credit market.

It will assess the findings of both reviews over the coming months.

Andrew Johnson, money expert for the Money Advice Service, said: “With household debts increasing and incomes stretched, it is important for banks, loan providers and credit card companies to ensure they are lending in a responsible way.

“To do this they need to ensure that the borrower can afford to repay their loan without falling into debt … and make sure that people who are borrowing money understand the full cost of their loan so they can make informed decisions about whether to take on additional credit.

“This needs to be balanced with ensuring that access to credit and loans is not restricted and made available at a reasonable cost for those that need it.”

The FPC’s findings follow news that complaints over payday lending rose by more than one-fifth during the second half of 2016.

This surge came despite the introduction of a payday loan price cap in January 2015.

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