Gateshead Investigates: Home Credit Loans and Problem Debt Home credit loans, commonly referred to as ‘doorstep loans’, are a growing area of concern for Citizens Advice. Last year 30,000 people across the UK accessed the charity for advice relating to debts stemming from home credit loans. Citizens Advice recently published new research into the home credit market, identifying both how home credit debts spiral into problem debt and what measures need to be taken to protect consumers. The report is particularly relevant to the issues we face in Gateshead; the ONS identified the North East (and London) as having the “the highest concentrations of people in difficulty” with debt, earlier this year. The report identified that many people who fell into problem debt through home credit loans were offered unaffordable loans or took on multiple loans concurrently. This is particularly concerning as it demonstrates that loan providers are not adequately checking whether loans are affordable for their clients. Refinancing home credit loans also correlated with the accumulation of problem debt. Whilst home credit loans do not charge customers over 100% of the initial loan, many of those who refinance their loans end up exceeding this rate. In reaction to this research, Citizens Advice is pushing for the Financial Conduct Authority to extend the protections it enacted on payday loans to home credit loans. Since the FCA reformed the regulations around payday loans in 2014, the number of people contacting Citizens Advice in regards to payday loans has fell by over 40%. Our research suggests that some of these protections, such as limiting the number of times a loan can be refinanced and guaranteeing that customers do not pay over twice the amount they initially borrowed, would dramatically ameliorate the issues with home credit loans. If you’re having an issue with home credit, there’s more information available on the Citizens Advice national website.