Small Amount Credit Contract Reforms: Will the Affordability Cap Achieve its Intended Objectives Without Unintended Adverse Consequences?
Gill North, 'Small Amount Credit Contract Reforms: Will the Affordability Cap Achieve Its Intended Objectives Without Unintended Adverse Consequences?' (2017) 32 Australian Journal of Corporate Law 1
26 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2017
Date Written: July 5, 2017
The law applying to small amount credit contracts was reviewed in late 2015 and the final report was released in March 2016. The stated objectives of the review were to allow consumers to access credit fairly and without excessively large debt burdens, and to establish regulatory settings that allow the industry to remain commercially viable. In November 2016, the Coalition Government accepted most of the review recommendations, including recommendation one that establishes a new affordability cap for all consumers seeking small amount credit contract loans. Recommendation one is the central reform to enhance consumer protection, but is highly contentious. Consumer groups support it, but the industry body argues that consumers will be disadvantaged due to more limited access to credit and higher fees than at present. The article explores these arguments and highlights possible outcomes that may arise from the introduction of a broad affordability cap. It ultimately concludes that available information is inadequate to properly assess the risks and likely impacts of enacting recommendation one. Consequently, it calls for an independent review of the business model and practices of small amount lending to confirm that the affordability cap reform will achieve its stated objectives and will lead to better long-term consumer outcomes without unintended adverse consequences.
Keywords: payday loans, payday lending, small amount loans, responsible lending, credit law
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