Debt Talk

by Ripon Ray

Talking about debt is more important than ever before, especially in times of the cost of living crisis. I am sure you have received a letter in the post asking you to get a credit card; or you have seen adverts on the TV or Google about different types of loans offered to you - subject to credit check. You only hear about debt when you are personally struggling financially. There are also regulatory changes or changes in  ...   ...  Read more

Podcast episodes

  • Season 2

  • Debt Talk: Consumer duty & the debt sector

    Debt Talk: Consumer duty & the debt sector

    Introducing Consumer Duty principles by the Financial Conduct Authority resulted in a dramatic shift from treating customers fairly to focusing on customer outcomes, which requires a readjustment of thinking for many regulated firms in Britain. To navigate such an insightful subject on the Debt Talk podcast, Ripon Ray invited distinguished experts from research and consultancy, debt recovery, and the advice sector. Kathy Ellison from Savanta, a research and consultancy firm, explained how some regulated firms had changed their governance structure, consumer terms and conditions, communications and marketing, and in dealing with vulnerable consumers. Savanta's research showed that although many firms have significantly addressed regulatory expectations to benefit consumers, some work is still needed to improve consumer outcomes. Bob Winnington of the Money Advice Liaison Group emphasised the importance of delivering world-class service. He explained how the group brought different regulated communities within the financial services market together to encourage firms to share best practices in a highly competitive environment. Alex Pitcher from Step Change emphasised that Consumer Duty enabled them to revisit their consumer advice journey through the organisational process. They had to explore diverse ways of communicating with their clients whilst considering their client profiles and meeting regulated funders' expectations to demonstrate how their mission is aligned with the best outcome for consumers in debt advice. They also provided TOP TIPS to listeners who require extra support and firms struggling with implementation today. The following podcast is as pressing as the current one. It is on 'Poverty and ethnicity premium'. If you want to provide feedback on the content of this and other podcasts, do not hesitate to contact Ripon Ray: ripon.ray@yourdoctordebt.com

  • Debt Talk: Council finance, tax & debt recovery

    Debt Talk: Council finance, tax & debt recovery

    Birmingham Council went bankrupt and accelerated its debt recovery to collect council tax and other fines by 500% between 2022 and 2023. It was revealed under the Freedom of Information Request. Other councils throughout the United Kingdom also use enforcement agents to recover unpaid debts since many are overstretched with their finances. To highlight the severity of this issue in this month's podcast on Debt Talk, Ripon Ray explored: 'Council finance, tax & debt recovery’. To assist him with the subject, Helen Ganney from Christians Against Poverty explained the challenges the debt advice sector faces in negotiating with some councils when many clients have insufficient funds to pay council tax debts and are in a deficit budget. Yet, there have been challenges with them and their agents to accept minimal payment or to hold enforcement action. She emphasised that many of these agents focus on collecting debts whilst not considering whether some residents can afford to pay. Russell Hamblin-Boone from the Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) looked at the causes of the intensification of recovery of many councils and, most importantly, the causes of the Birmingham Council going bankrupt and its debt recovery. He explained that as part of the commercial agreements with councils with private enforcement agents, enforcement agents are required to identify client vulnerability and provide welfare support as part of the agreement. He emphasised that enforcement agents don’t get a commission from council tax recovery but only a set fee. To standardise the behaviour of the enforcement sector, however, CIVEA proactively funded the set up of an independent regulatory body to make sure the enforcement sector works for all. Chris Nichols recently joined the newly founded Enforcement Conduct Board as CEO to make sure the Board works for the public interest. As part of developing a framework to ensure the enforcement market is fit for purpose, it creates a robust and accountable governance structure and complaints system to ensure any complaints against an enforcement agent are investigated fairly. He emphasised that input from the debt advice, enforcement agents, vulnerable communities, and other stakeholders is crucial to keeping the enforcement sector accountable. They also provided TOP TIPS to assist Debt Talk listeners in conversing on such a charged and tense subject. On the next Debt Talk podcast, Ripon Ray will cover: 'Consumer duty & debt updates’.

  • Debt Talk: Gambling & debt

    Debt Talk: Gambling & debt

    In this month's Debt Talk podcast with Ripon Ray, the subject is: 'Gambling and debt'. To navigate such a sensitive topic, he has experts from academia and gambling therapy. Prof John McAlaney from Bournemouth University speaks about the meaning of gambling, the different types of gambling activities in the UK and how the behaviour of gambling differs based on age and sex. He also explores the role of the Gambling Commission and how the Commission and the British government could be influenced to drive change for the benefit of vulnerable communities who face problem gambling. Kathy Wade from GamCare highlights the types of gamblers they support as part of their broad strategy whilst working with other sectors connected with gambling and debt. She explores the chemicals in the brains of many gamblers, which may cause them to gamble. Many gamblers face unsustainable loss of income as a result of gambling and homelessness. The impact of gambling is not simply on the person who risks but also on their family and friends. They also provide TOP TIPS to Debt Talk to support regulators, companies, and voluntary sectors in making policy decisions for the benefit of vulnerable communities. My next episode will be on 'Local government finance, tax and debt'.

  • Debt Talk: Debt, housing costs & homelessness

    Debt Talk: Debt, housing costs & homelessness

    According to Shelter, a homelessness charity, there are 271,000 people recorded as homeless in England of which 123,000 children. To navigate this month’s Debt Talk podcast with Ripon Ray on: ‘Debt, housing costs and homelessness', expert panellists who specialise in the benefits system, policy and debt. Deven Ghelani, Founder and Director of Policy in Practice, spoke about the true meaning of homelessness in the UK, and how the current benefit system that was initially ‘designed ‘to simplify things, as it stands, appears not fit for purpose because the current system does not pay sufficient financial assistance to support vulnerable communities who are homeless or vulnerable to homelessness. Although he was involved in designing universal credit during its initial policy development, there are wider issues that require discussion, such as the number of homes available and the cost of renting and owning a home. Amy Taylor, Debt Adviser and Chair of the Greater Manchester Money Advice Group, spoke about how local governments are on the verge of collapsing due to cuts from the central government, the demand for temporary accommodation getting higher each year and they also have to prioritise services. She emphasised that many migrants are evicted from hostels and they are also left destitute and homeless. She also explored the impact debts can have on getting onto the property ladder - either as a tenant or homebuyer - home due to the impact debts can have on someone's credit rating. Social landlords may emphasise that prospective tenants pay previous rent arrears to their social landlord before providing prospective tenants with a new home. They also provided TOP TIPS to my listeners to address some of the homelessness-related challenges to vulnerable communities and professionals. The next podcast is to cover: ‘Gambling and debt’. If you want to hear a specific subject on the Debt Talk podcast, you can get in touch with Ripon Ray: ripon.ray@yourdoctordebt.com or Twitter: YourDoctorDebt.

  • Debt Talk: Alternative lending & debt

    Debt Talk: Alternative lending & debt

    Mainstream lenders are here to stay. It does not mean we are not seeing a variety of lenders in the financial market. In this month's podcast on Debt Talk, Ripon Ray spoke about: 'Alternative lending & debt'. To navigate the subject, there were experts from financial inclusion and debt. Gareth Evens - Co-founder and director of the Financial Inclusion Centre - spoke about the variety of lenders and the make-up of lenders in the United Kingdom. He explored the relevance of alternative lenders, such as the role of local credit unions within the consumer credit market, the benefit of such lenders compared to mainstream lenders and the obligation of any lenders when dealing with vulnerable consumers in financial difficulties whilst considering affordability to borrow. Sam Nurse - CEO of Money Advice Hub & Zeus Design Hub - spoke about the importance of living within your means and that lenders should carry out affordability assessments and treat consumers fairly at every step. She emphasised that some debt advisers need clarification about ways to identify illegal lenders. Yet there is help at hand from the Illegal Lending Team. Debt Talk panellists also provided Debt Talk listeners with TOPS TIPS for those considering approaching lenders just before Christmas. The next Debt Talk podcast is on: 'Housing costs & homelessness'