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Charcol.co.uk to offer free sub-prime advice

Charcol.co.uk is offering free advice to borrowers with poor credit histories in a bid to grow its presence in the sub-prime market.

John Charcol’s online brokerage says sub-prime is a growing market and has estimated that annual lending in the sector is worth about £30bn or 8% of the market.

It also says that repossessions are predicted to rise to as high as 55,000 in two years and those with poor credit records will account for 70% of this.

Charcol.co.uk says its free advice deal is an attempt to break away from a market saturated with brokers charging high fees. However, it will continue to charge fees on mainstream cases.

Peter Barrett, managing director of charcol.co.uk, says: “We are looking to grow our presence in the sub-prime market.

“The amount of personal debt in the UK continues to spiral, particularly in a rising interest rate environment. For financially vulnerable borrowers to be charged outrageous fees for consolidating their debts is wrong.”

He adds: “There is no doubt that this is a growing market and the current solutions available are only helping to bolster it. We are determined to do something about this and providing fees-free advice is the right thing to do.

“We are setting people who are financially vulnerable on the right path by tailoring advice for them.”

But David Hollingworth, mortgage specialist at London & Country, is concerned that a segregated fees structure, where prime customers pay and sub-prime clients do not, could anger the former group.

He says: “Having a multi-fee proposition can become confusing. You have to wonder whether this will put prime customers’ noses out of joint.

“Fees-free advice is the right thing to do and we have been doing it for a long time.”

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