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The ResPublica Fringe at Labour Party Conference

3rd October 2013

  • ResPublica

Successful ResPublica fringe in Brighton

ResPublica hosted a successful fringe programme at the Labour Party conference in Brighton. Our public fringe event, a panel discussion co-hosted with the Consumer Finance Association (CFA) posed the question: ‘Are payday loans ever in the consumer interest?’ The debate took place in the Thistle Hotel, Brighton and was chaired by the Elaine Moore, Deputy Editor of FT Money.

Joanna Elson, Chief Executive of the Money Advice Trust argued the case for a more responsible payday loans sector, calling for a limit to the number of rollovers. Calling for an end to the ‘unchecked powers’ which allow payday lenders to delve into customer accounts, Chair of the APPG on Debt and Personal Finance, Yvonne Fovargue MP, also highlighted the need to better educate consumers about the terms of payday loans, also calling for statutory rather than voluntary guidance to regulate the payday loan sector. The Consumer Finance Association’s Chief Executive, Russell Hamblin-Boone, explained that the CFA has already capped the number of rollovers to 3 to avoid debt spirals, and reassured stakeholders that responsible lenders should work with their customers towards solving underlying debt problems. In response, Chris Evans MP, Labour and Cooperative Member for Islwyn, reiterated the need for responsible short term lending bridging gap between banks and loan sharks including better designed regulation, admitting his initial skepticism was ill-placed and that ‘the market is needed, but one that works for its consumers’. In addition, Chris alerted the audience to the need for more innovative solutions, commenting that credit unions alone will not be able to solve the problem. He also flagged that more rigorous education for those working in the banking sector is essential. All agreed that whilst providing an important service, the industry needs to improve transparency and fairness, cap the cost of credit and place the consumer in control. ResPublica and the Consumer Finance Association have held this debate at all three party conferences this year.

A summary of the event and a round-up of ResPublica’s Lorena Papamanci’s reflections following the Liberal Democrat party conference, featuring Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs Jo Swinson MP, is available here.

ResPublica also hosted a private roundtable discussion entitled ‘Transforming Social Care: Beyond Personalisation’, which was supported by Dimensions. The roundtable featured keynote addresses by Liz Kendall MP, Shadow Minister for Care and Older People; Barbara Keeley, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Care; and was chaired by David Brindle, public services editor at the Guardian. The speeches each picked up on themes highlighted in our ‘Putting People into Personalisation’ and is available to read online here.

ResPublica’s coverage of the Labour Party conference also includes a response to Ed Milliband’s closing speech by ResPublica Trustee Adrian Pabst, Senior Lecturer in Politics at University of Kent. In addition, you can find a response by Caroline Julian, ResPublica’s Head of Research, to Miliband’s energy price fixing pledge by here, and a response by Lorena Papamanci, Researcher to the Director, to Miliband’s stance on immigration here.

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