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Citizens Advice Criticises Irresponsible Lenders

The Citizens Advice Bureau is aiding UK consumers who have borrowed far more than they can afford, to have their debts written off. The bureau has admitted it is shocked at the level of irresponsible lending by banks, which continue to lend sums to consumers who have little chance of repaying the debt.

Suman Antcliffe, money advisor at East Staffordshire Citizens Advice in Burton upon Trent, is appalled that most banks in her area still continue to lend money to people despite them have little chance of repaying it. So far she has been successful in with several of clients in having their debts written off completely or partially.

She has reported that she is particularly pleased with the response of the town's Lloyds TSB branch, which co-operated with her in writing off the debt of six of her clients. She says: "The bank is working with us to help our mutual clients. The bank now realises it is not in anyone's interests to lend money to people who cannot afford to pay it back."

Lloyds TSB added: "In 2004 the Burton upon Trent Citizens Advice Bureau brought to our attention a small number of cases relating to loans arranged as far back as five years. As a result of our investigations, two members of staff at the Burton branch have now left the organisation.

"We urge any customer experiencing difficulties with their finances to come and speak to us as early as possible. In doing so we are able to find the most appropriate solution for their circumstances. Because of our strong relationships with Citizens Advice we are able to help address customers' concerns quickly and sympathetically."

However, not all the blame for bad debt can be levelled at lenders. Those who borrow irresponsibly won't receive as much sympathy from the Financial Ombudsman Service. A spokeswoman from the Ombudsman said: "Consumers do have a certain amount of responsibility when it comes to taking out credit. However, when it is clear that someone is in difficulties, it will not always be responsible for a lender to continue to offer more credit, as this may simply become a bigger problem."

Alisdair Milton
22nd January 2007


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