Damon Gibbons on Britain's Personal Debt Crisis

Wednesday, 12 December 2012 14:47


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Praise for Damon's work

"Damon's book provides a timely insight into the power of personal debt to not just make life a daily struggle of the public but do long term damage to the future our country. He matches detailed analysis with a passionate call for action that many will find compelling" 
Stella Creasy MP

 ''This is a timely analysis of the growth in personal debt and a passionate plea for action. Few people understand the working of credit markets better than Damon and his proposals for effective regulation deserve serious attention."

 Paul Blomfield MP

“Damon  is one of those rare people who is able to combine a social policy researchers’  attention to detail with a campaigners’ zeal and passion to make change  happen. 


The fact that he has managed to sustain this work for more than a  decade, even when it has often meant swimming against the prevailing opinion of  the times, is remarkable.  Not only that, his analysis of the problems and  solutions to Britain’s personal debt crisis is always insightful, and almost  always right!”

Niall  Cooper director Church  Action on Poverty


''Damon Gibbons has campaigned  over many years for fair lending at a reasonable price to low income households.  From doorstep lending to payday loans he has challenged established ideas and  called for a cap on costs - a policy now endorsed by the Government."

 Paul Lewis, journalist and broadcaster


About the book


We are living in a period of great unrest.


What is commonly regarded as starting as a ‘credit crunch’ in 2007 became a full blown financial crisis the following year causing the ‘deepest global downturn in recent history’. Across Europe, rising insolvencies and unemployment have led to falling tax revenues, and to yawning national budget deficits.  The austerity measures taken to ‘deal with’ these deficits are exacerbating wealth inequalities and a series of social and political crises are emerging


Underpinning all of these events is a personal debt crisis, and it remains utterly unresolved. 


The personal debt crisis is not a single moment in time but has been caused by the de-regulation of the financial sector over a period of thirty years; of deep change within the structure of our labour market; of failed housing policies; and of the erosion of the welfare state.   The personal debt crisis is also a cultural crisis, where positive notions of self reliance and responsibility have been twisted by the credit industry to encourage people to meet short term ‘wants’ at the expense of long term ‘needs’.


Damon Gibbons was one of the few UK commentators to spot the oncoming crisis. 



In December 2006, some nine months before problems surfaced at Northern Rock, he warned that 2007 could become a year in which personal debt tipped the economy into recession.


Over the past fifteen years he has consistently campaigned for greater responsibility in lending and has been the driving force behind recent decisions to make Britain’s banking sector disclose details of their provision in low income communities and provide regulators with the power to cap the cost of credit.  In ‘Solving Britain’s Personal Debt Crisis’, Gibbons takes both policy makers and the financial sector to task for failing to heed warnings that personal debt had risen to unsustainable levels and for failing to make banks pass on the benefits of taxpayer funded bail-outs to households. Arguing that a long hard look is needed at the ‘deep forces’ which have given rise to the crisis, Gibbons now calls for a root and branch overhaul of Britain’s broken credit and debt management systems.


Damon comments


“This book is about the personal debt crisis: its origins and effects, and critically, what we have to do about it.  


This book is about how we managed to get it wrong and create a global crisis.  It provides evidence about how dazzled we became by credit, and details the consequences of what happens when we forget the underlying principles that need to govern its use.  Importantly, this book is also about how to get it right. 


It is not an ‘anti-credit’ book, it is a pro-credit book.  It is about how to create a credit system that really meets the needs of households and business and supports sustainable economic growth. 


It is about how to build a credit system that works for people and the planet.”

More about Damon Gibbons, Director of the Centre for Responsible Credit

In 1999 Damon founded the Debt on our Doorstep campaign and in 2003 he identified the grounds for a subsequent Competition Commission inquiry into the Home Credit or door to door lending market.


In 2005 Damon was a founder member of the European Coalition for Responsible Credit ('ECRC'), and he remains a member of its Management Board. In 2008 Damon's paper, written with Sir Ian McCartney, concerning the position of low income borrowers in the current financial crisis led directly to the Office of Fair Trading High Cost Credit Review.


Damon has previously been employed as the Head of Policy and Partnership at the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion, in which capacity he supported the Tackling Worklessness Review team commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Communities and Local Government and led by Cllr Stephen Houghton, CBE. During this time he also reported on the coping strategies of people in fuel poverty for Energywatch, and researched the barriers to increasing part-time employment opportunities for parents in London, which was commissioned by the Government's Child Poverty Unit.


Prior to joining Inclusion, Damon worked in local government with responsibiliies for advice and economic development services. He also served as an adviser to the Local Government Association on debt and financial inclusion issues, helping to design the criteria for the financial inclusion Beacon Council awards in 2007, and was responsible for the development of two nationally recognised services to enforce Minimum Wage payment to low paid workers, and to provide advice and assistance to refugees and asylum seekers, in Leicester.


However, Damon's initial career was spent as a money and welfare rights adviser in the voluntary sector and during this period he provided county court and Tribunal representation as well as training services for new advisers and developed a partnership project to meet the advice needs of offenders in Warwickshire. He also served as an Executive Committee member and press officer for the Money Advice Association.


Damon holds a BA in Economics and Politics and an MA (Distinction) in Public Policy. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.