Who Is to Blame for Spending; as Total Borrowing Nears Pounds 1.1trillion and Card Holders Owe a Record Pounds 55.68billion, Should the Credit Card Industry Be Curbed? Helen Gabriel Reports

The Birmingham Post (England), July 15, 2005 | Go to article overview

Who Is to Blame for Spending; as Total Borrowing Nears Pounds 1.1trillion and Card Holders Owe a Record Pounds 55.68billion, Should the Credit Card Industry Be Curbed? Helen Gabriel Reports


Byline: Helen Gabriel

Who's at fault? The lenders for letting us have the cash, or us for borrowing it?

On the 19th of every month I sneak out of my house early, hoping to avoid the postman. It's credit card bill day, and at 24-years-old I am already a slave to several shiny, innocent-looking pieces of plastic tucked inside my wallet.

I certainly don't own a house, in fact, I don't even own a car. All I have to show for my debts are several pairs of beautiful shoes and a university education.

But I'm one of an increasing number of people struggling to pay off credit card debts, which soared across Britain by pounds 800 million in May as people tried to make their monthly repayments.

Bank sales techniques have been blamed for fuelling a 'buy now, pay later' culture, and credit card debt has recently been implicated in a number of suicides, including that of father-of-two Mark McDonald, aged 43, from Norfolk, whose body was found beside a railway line with a bundle of demands from banks and finance companies detailing credit card and other debts of pounds 65,000.

This has led to calls for lending to be curbed and more stringent financial assessments to be put in place. The Consumer Credit Bill currently going through parliament will make it easier for people to successfully take legal action against a lender and update legislation to strengthen the rules governing credit licences, including tougher checks on people who apply for a licence, but it won't make it any harder for us to borrow money.

But who's at fault? The lenders for letting us have the cash, or us for borrowing it?

There is no doubt that society is becoming increasingly materialistic and consumer-led. Young people are living for the moment, and are often using credit cards and loans to enhance their standards of living.

Lifestyle expectations have soared, but wages haven't, and people seem to feel the need to supplement their income. …

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