Many of us have experienced debt at some point in our lives. Maybe because your wages are too low, or your rent is too high, or maybe you or someone you care about gets sick, or dies. You take on debt with one lender. The interest and fees creep up. So you take on debt from another lender to pay off your first debt.

Meanwhile, the problem that forced you into debt in the first place – the low wages, the high rent, the sick relative, the debt to the funeral director – hasn’t gone away.

Approximately eight million people are caught in a debt trap of this kind, paying out an average of a quarter of their incomes each month to their lenders. When you look at the facts, it is gobsmacking the government haven’t done more to protect people from big lenders. 

Jack* from the Unfair Debt Group says:

In 2013 my wife had an accident and was left disabled. I had to alter my house completely to meet her needs. The refurbishment cost £30,000. To do this I spent all my savings, plus I had to borrow on credit cards.

I have used three credit cards from high street companies. Between them I borrowed £11,000. I have already paid back nearly £30,000 in total, and yet because of the high interest I still owe the same £11,000.”

Why are banks allowed to get rich off our debts, while the rest of us get poorer? This is the question we’re trying to answer with a group of people in East London who have formed the Unfair Debt Group, to demand a fairer debt system.

The Government has already taken some action to reign in pay-day lenders and rent-to-own companies like Brighthouse, thanks to the hard work of people like you. But because people take on debts, to pay down existing debt, picking off one bit of the high cost lending market at a time won’t work.

Credit cards with their eye-watering interest rates for people without much money, are let off the hook by the government.

Will you email your MP? We’ve drafted a template letter that asks MPs to write to the responsible Minister John Glen, supporting the call for a cap on all forms on household credit. Individual letters from constituents can be a really effective way of mobilising MPs to influence government ministers.

Right now, credit card companies with their eye-watering interest rates for people without much money, are let completely off the hook by the government. We can’t let this continue.

We want Government and regulators to act now to cap interest rates and charges on all forms of consumer credit.

The Unfair Debt Group welcomes anyone who cares about unfair debt and want to make the system fairer. We meet every month in East London. If you’d like to get involved, email Heather Kennedy on heather.​kennedy@​neweconomics.​org

* We have changed the name of the person to protect their privacy