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Customers of doorstep lender Provident Financial can claim compensation for mis-sold loans after the High Court backed a partial repayment scheme.
The company has set aside £50m to meet claims from borrowers who were sold unaffordable loans.
Customers will still not get all their money back.
However, the Court agreed to the scheme after the firm warned full payments would force it to go bust leaving many victims with nothing.
"We believed from the outset that the scheme was fair and that it offered the best outcomes for customers," said Malcolm Le May, chief executive officer of Provident.
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He said the Court approval was "a positive outcome for customers with valid claims under the scheme, as it provides access to a redress payment which would not have been possible had the scheme not been approved."
The scheme will go live later in August with a deadline of the end of February 2022, giving borrowers just six months to claim their cash.
"Customers won't get a full refund but it is worth claiming compensation if you were sold an unaffordable loan as you may still get hundreds of pounds," said debt adviser Sara Williams, who runs the Debt Camel blog.
What went wrong?
Provident had been lending and collecting repayments on the doorstep since the 1880s butblaming "changing industry and regulatory dynamics" as well as "shifting customer preferences".
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Its lending was legal and approved by the City regulator, but proved controversial, with some campaigners calling them "legal loan sharks".
One 52-year-old, who borrowed with Provident for 30 years, said he had taken loans totalling £60,000 but it was a "vicious circle".
"It was for basic spending, and Christmas, but was too convenient," he said.
Last year, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said prolonged relending could be harmful to borrowers and the company faced a flood of complaints that affordability checks were not carried out when doorstep loans and payday loans were granted.
It said the second half of last year had seen a 200% rise in complaints compared with the first half.
That led to thebecause Provident said it could not afford to carry on paying full refunds to customers who were winning affordability complaints.
The Financial Ombudsman had been upholding about 75% of complaints.
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The FCA said it did not approve of the scheme but as Provident has stopped providing doorstep loans, it did not object to it in court.
Who can claim?
The scheme covers customers who had unaffordable loans between 6 April 2007 and 17 December 2020 from one of Provident's personal credit brands.
They are doorstep lender Provident, Satsuma payday loans, Greenwood - a doorstep lender defunct since 2014 - and Glo, a guarantor loan brand.
Some 4.2 million people borrowed from the different brands during the period but not all are expected to have a valid claim, with the court estimating that up to 30% of them could apply for redress.
What's an unaffordable loan?
"A loan is only affordable if you could repay it on time and still be able to pay your other debts, bills and living expenses," said Sara Williams.
"You may have paid the loan on time, but it may still have been unaffordable. If paying Provident left you so short of money you had to borrow more or you got behind with bills then it was unaffordable."
How can borrowers claim?
To make a claim you need to.
There's a useful Debt Camel guide and more background.
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