High-cost short-term credit provider Quick Loans has been censured after it called for a return to the use of debtors’ prisons.
In a bizarre post on its website, the payday lender - which is approved and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority - described those who fall behind on their repayments as “bad people” and appealed to readers to “think of how satisfying it would be as your neighbour who is always living beyond his or her means… is carted off to prison”.
Debtors’ prisons were abolished in 1869 as a result of their inhumane, workhouse-like conditions.
It is illegal in the UK to be imprisoned for debt on overdrafts, loans, credit cards or energy bills.
The lender criticised customers who fail to pay back their borrowings for driving up the cost of loans.
“If we brought back debtors prisons, the price of loans could be reduced,” it said. “Bad people wouldn’t apply for them without a concrete plan to repay them on time. They’d take their own financial responsibility much more seriously if it was linked directly to their liberty.”
Debt charities including StepChange Debt Charity and the Money Advice Trust branded the post “irresponsible” and called for greater empathy in the treatment of customers.
“Anyone with a shred of understanding of how people behave when they experience debt knows that heavy-handed enforcement is both counter-productive and simply cruel,” StepChange’s media officer Sue Anderson said. “Rather than ‘living beyond their means’, most people in debt have ended up there because of a shock to their income.”
Jane Tully, director of external affairs at the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: “If these truly are the views of Quick Loans, I would encourage the Financial Conduct Authority to take a keen interest in how it is conducting its business, and whether it is compliant with what the regulator expects.”
As part of Credit Week, Credit Strategy – which is celebrating its 20th anniversary and 20th Credit Awards in 2019 – will be promoting greater financial inclusion during Credit Awareness Week, in partnership with Experian.
The aim of the campaign is to increase awareness among the public and financial services customers of credit, how it functions and how they can improve their standing.
For more information about Credit Awareness Week and Credit Week more widely, click here.
Quick Loans has yet to respond to a request for comment.