With the government cracking down on the likes of Wonga, QuickQuid and various other payday lenders who have been defending their lending practices in Parliament, CAP is also working to tackle the issue on another front. By working with these companies, CAP is a voice for the vulnerable, influencing policy from the inside.
My team, the Creditor Liaison Unit, is in the business of ‘speaking up for those who can’t speak for themselves’. We work with over one thousand creditors, from high street banks to payday lender, to get the best results for our clients; to get them out of debt as quickly as possible and to protect them from the storm of collection activity until they get there.
My particular role involves liaising with the movers and shakers of the credit industry to impress upon them that the clients they are dealing with are not just figures and boxes to tick, but real people with real lives – and real problems. We challenge existing procedures and highlight the need to change their processes.
In fact, in recent weeks, CAP has been approached by five credit companies seeking a personal consultation about their vulnerable clients, asking how they can improve their policies and implement a better system for dealing with particularly desperate clients compassionately. It’s a domino effect and CAP is pushing the boundaries in order to see change for the people who need it – one step, and credit company, at a time.
This month, three companies have offered to provide Christmas hampers to local CAP Debt Centres for clients living in poverty, and one has offered to provide food and clothing for clients in their local area. Two national creditors, and a third pending, are actively getting involved in CAP Job Clubs and the important work that is being pioneered by our team. This reflects their growing compassion and awareness of the value of offering practical and emotional support to clients through the trauma of debt repayment.
CAP has an integral role in shaping the credit industry and affecting change on a daily and weekly basis. We communicate to credit companies that what they regularly read as ‘won’t pay’ is often simply, ‘can’t pay’. We stand in the gap between companies and our clients and make sure that the voice of the voiceless and oppressed is heard - and it is through this that we are changing the policy of these companies from the inside out.