Tory party line on debt

21 November 2006
A speech from shadow chancellor George Osborne to the Conservative party's "debt summit" has called for more "social responsibility" around lending from government, lenders and borrowers.

Mr Osborne said the party was committed to tackling debt and promoting financial inclusion, noting that total UK credit card debt reached £54.7 billion this year.

Tory proposals include capping overcharging by lenders and allowing for a seven-day cooling-off period before customers can use new store cards.

The ways in which IVAs (Individual Voluntary Arrangements) are advertised would also be scrutinised, with nine people declared bankrupt in the UK every hour.

Mr Osborne stressed the growing problem of financial illiteracy: "The numbers of people struggling to cope are up," he said.

But he added: "This isn't just a problem for the people caught up in rising debts. It's a potential problem for everyone."

"An economy built on borrowed money is an economy built on borrowed time," he said.

Personal debt in the UK is now at £1,200 billion - more than the country's total GDP.

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