On 2 February 2023, the FCA published Consultation Paper CP23/5 Debt packagers: Feedback on CP21/30 and further consultation on new rules and perimeter guidance.
In November 2021, the FCA published CP21/30 which proposed to ban debt packagers from receiving referral fees, after the FCA found evidence that that there was an acute conflict of interest inherent in the debt packager business model and which firms did not appear able to manage. However, having reflected on the feedback it received to CP21/30, the FCA decided it would be appropriate to gather more evidence showing how debt packager firms manage this conflict of interest, in particular from parts of the market not as strongly represented in the FCA’s existing evidence base. The FCA has since analysed this further evidence, finding that it supports their original conclusions that debt packagers do not appear to manage the identified conflict of interest well.
In CP23/5, the FCA is proposing to make the rules as set out in CP21/30, with minor amendments. The FCA is reconsulting to allow stakeholders to comment on the analysis of the expanded evidence base, to give feedback on the proposed implementation period and, given the passage of time since the original consultation, to allow the opportunity to raise any new issues or developments in the market of which the FCA should be aware.
The FCA is also seeking views on proposed perimeter guidance to clarify the boundary of the regulated activity of debt counselling in relation to activities commonly carried out by unauthorised lead generators.
The deadline for feedback to the consultation is 2 March 2023.