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Citizens Advice responds to Government response on Bills of Sale

28 January 2011

Citizens Advice Head of Consumer Policy Sue Edwards said:

“The Code of Practice for ‘Bills of Sale’ lending announced today represents a welcome step forward in a sector where bureaux have been reporting widespread problems for some time. However it will remain to be seen whether this will be sufficient.

“CAB advisers have seen cases where borrowers have been subject to unfair or misleading sales practices, with lenders failing to ensure borrowers clearly understand the terms of the agreement before they sign up to it, and failing to check they can afford the repayments. Missed payments can lead to aggressive debt collection tactics, and problems with bills of sale debts do not end with repossession. Bureaux have seen cases where lenders pursue shortfalls after sale aggressively, including putting people’s homes at risk through the use of charging orders – a second chance at securing a previously secured debt.

“The code is not by itself a particularly strong safeguard. So for the government's decision not to legislate to be justified, Bills of Sale lenders will need to prove that they are capable of improving and show that they are fully committed to treating people fairly, particularly those in financial difficulties. The government will need to watch how this code is followed like hawks and commit to intervene more forcefully if it doesn't work.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk. You can also get advice online at adviceguide.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers
  5. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.3 million clients on 5.4 million problems from October 2013 to September 2014. For full 2013/2014  service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.