Stephen Williams MP - working hard for Bristol West

Stephen Williams MP backs calls on celebrities to stop endorsing secured debt products

4.52.42pm BST (GMT +0100) Mon 22nd May 2006

Stephen Williams, Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West, has joined calls on celebrities to reconsider whether they take part in adverts for "debt consolidation" loans. He has signed a parliamentary petition to highlight how unscrupulous personal finance companies exploit people who already have large debts by using celebrities - particularly those who are famed for their arithmetical abilities.

Sold as a 'cure all' where people pull all their debts together, they often result in individuals paying far greater sums of money in interest payments than they originally owed. The debts can trap people in for an extended period and if repayments are not kept up the debtor can lose their home.

Stephen Williams said "British people now have personal debts amounting to over one trillion pounds. The secured loan market has increased by five times over the last five years and growing personal debt is an economic time bomb that Gordon Brown refuses to acknowledge."

Adverts for these products are now commonplace on television and often use celebrities - such as Carol Vorderman - to persuade people that such loans are an easy everyday option, rather than a last resort. The campaign to make celebrities think again about playing such roles is being run by Martin Lewis of website and is backed by such charities as the Consumer Credit Counselling Service and Credit Action. An online petition asking Carol Vorderman to stop doing such adverts has already accrued more than 80,000 signatures.

Stephen Williams added "People who are trusted by the public for their skills or expertise in a particular field have a moral responsibility to ensure that their reputations are not misused by cynical companies for financial gain. Many of these companies prey on those least able to afford it, namely those who are already in a great deal of debt. The field of debt repayment is difficult enough to understand at the best of times, so endorsements by celebrities can be very powerful."

For more information about dealing with debt visit

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