Insolvency Technology

Payday loans complaints rise 22% despite FCA clampdown

This article was sourced from The Guardian. Article by Rupert Jones.

Complaints to the financial ombudsman about payday loans have risen to almost 200 a week – and not all of those experiencing problems necessarily fit the image of low-income borrowers relying on short-term loans to get by.

During the second half of 2016 the Financial Ombudsman Service received 5,095 new payday lending complaints, up 22% on the first six months of the year. This increase came despite tougher regulation of the controversial sector.

The figures mean complaints about the loans are now running at around 850 per month. In early 2013 the ombudsman was receiving around 30-40 cases each month. Most of the complaints relate to affordability – for example, a borrower claiming that the checks the firm should have carried out were not done properly.

The ombudsman also revealed that those complaining about payday lenders included teachers, nurses, students and “even a handful of vets”, showing that this was an issue that affected people from “all walks of life”.
The increase follows a regulatory clampdown on the multibillion-pound sector, which the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) began policing in April 2014. Since then payday lenders have been required to make tougher affordability checks and their adverts have come under greater scrutiny, and in January 2015 price caps on the loans took effect, resulting in lower borrowing costs for many.

The ombudsman service has previously said that the increase in payday loan complaints partly reflected people’s growing awareness of their rights when things go wrong.

Looking at all financial complaints, the ombudsman took on 149,864 new cases during the last six months of 2016, which was 11% down on the first half of the year.

Payment protection insurance continues to be the most complained-about product, with just over 78,000 complaints – making up more than half of the total. However, the 3,000 or so PPI complaints the ombudsman service typically receives in a week is down from a high of 12,000.

Bank of Scotland, which includes brands such as the Halifax and Birmingham Midshires, was the most complained-about business during the period with 19,555 complaints. Lloyds and Barclays were in second and third place with 18,411 and 13,379 complaints respectively.

The average “uphold rate” over the six-month period, where the ombudsman finds in favour of the consumer, was 42%. Coventry building society had the lowest uphold rate at 6%, while HFC Bank, a subsidiary of HSBC, had the highest at 87%.

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