BrightHouse will pay com­pen­sa­tion

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page - BY JOHN MCDOUGALL john.mcdougall@trin­i­tymir­ @JMacD1988

AHALTON con­sumer rights and ad­vice cham­pion has wel­comed news that BrightHouse has com­mit­ted to re­im­burse £14.8m to nearly 250,000 cus­tomers for of­fer­ing rent-to-own deals on house­hold goods with­out proper af­ford­abil­ity checks.

The firm has 300 stores na­tion­ally, of which two are in Hal­ton.

Ci­ti­zens Ad­vice Hal­ton be­lieve sthat more than 1,000 peo­ple in Run­corn and Widnes could be in line for com­pen­sa­tion.

Pre­vi­ous re­search by the na­tional char­ity has found that one in five rent-to-own cus­tomers spent 20% or more of their in­come on pay­ments and more than half had to take on other debts to cover the costs.

Ci­ti­zens Ad­vice has called for the Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Author­ity (FCA) to im­prove af­ford­abil­ity checks for rent-to-own cus­tomers to pre­vent peo­ple from be­ing of­fered agree­ments they can­not af­ford.

In ad­di­tion to ac­tion to help peo­ple when they are in debt, the char­ity is ask­ing for more pro­tec­tion for peo­ple against un­af­ford­able lend­ing.

The char­ity is also ask­ing the pay­day loan cap to be ex­tended to all forms of high cost credit, mean­ing that no-one would pay more than twice what they bor­rowed in in­ter­est and charges. ●

Ci­ti­zens Ad­vice Hal­ton chief ex­ec­u­tive Hitesh Pa­tel said: “Ci­ti­zens Ad­vice has long called for the Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Author­ity to take ac­tion on poor af­ford­abil­ity checks on rent-to-own deals, which can trap peo­ple in debt.

“In the last 12 months na­tion­ally the Ci­ti­zens Ad­vice ser­vice has helped peo­ple with more than 13,000 rent-to-own is­sues where peo­ple were strug­gling to make re­pay­ments for es­sen­tial goods like fridges and wash­ing ma­chine.

“Last year in Hal­ton, we have helped over 2,000 peo­ple who were trapped in a down­ward spi­ral of un­man­age­able debt, and many of these peo­ple were strug­gling with rent-to-own pay­ments.

“Each day we see the dam­ag­ing ef­fect ir­re­spon­si­ble lend­ing can have on lo­cal peo­ple’s health and well­be­ing and so we’re pleased to see that the FCA are tak­ing ac­tion against BrightHouse whose loose lend­ing prac­tices have pushed the very peo­ple who can least af­ford it fur­ther into fi­nan­cial difficulty.

“Ci­ti­zens Ad­vice is calling on the FCA to tighten up credit checks across the rent-to-own sec­tor to pre­vent peo­ple get­ting caught in a debt spi­ral.”

Any­one who is strug­gling with debts or is wor­ried about how they might cope fi­nan­cially in the fu­ture is urged to contact Ci­ti­zens Ad­vice Hal­ton’s money ad­vice team on 0151 257 2449 or email ad­vice@ cit­i­zen­sad­vice­hal­ton.

Hitesh Pa­tel of Ci­ti­zens Ad­vice Hal­ton

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