VICTORIA BIZOFF: Put an end to debt. Government should bring down the “buy now, pay later” industry.

You can’t go anywhere these days without being bombarded by adverts for buy now, pay later deals.

These ads are prominently displayed on billboards. They also appear frequently at online checkouts.

In this column, I have repeatedly written about how irresponsible it is to encourage young people to put a lifestyle they can’t afford on credit — and I find Klarna’s bright pink marketing that targets women particularly galling.

Easy money: Buy now pay later firms such as Klarna tend to start shoppers off with very small spending limits, and only increase them if customers prove to be reliable with repayments

Easy money: Buy now pay later firms such as Klarna tend to start shoppers off with very small spending limits, and only increase them if customers prove to be reliable with repayments

Additionally, it is concerning to note that some borrowers may still be able to sign up for credit cards without having passed proper credit screenings. These checks are not required to prevent those with already high credit card debts from falling further into it.

Everyone agrees that it is urgent to regulate buy-now, pay-later deals. The Treasury is currently consulting about plans for doing just that.

Yet all this doesn’t mean the product itself is bad. The services have clear advantages, allowing customers to spread payments across several weeks and months, without having to pay interest.

Customers often praise how convenient they are, particularly when buying items online, as they don’t have to wait for a refund if they want to send them back.

It is possible to borrow less than the average amount.

Shoppers are often given very low spending limits to begin with and then increased if they prove themselves reliable in repaying. Anybody who is behind in payments will be cut off immediately.

We must be careful not to blindly target buy-now, pay later companies and attribute all the problems in the debt world to them. Regulated lenders also need to accept some accountability. Total credit card debt rose by £600 million just last month.

Debt advisors point out that even though clients may have had problems with buy-now,-pay later services, this is often just the tip of an ocean mainly made up credit cards, loans, and arrears.

A change of circumstances, such as losing your job, or divorce can often lead to a debt crisis.

So why not force all major lenders to check in with their customers more frequently — say, every six months — to ensure their credit limits are still suitable and they are not spending more than they can afford to repay? The shoppers must also be more responsible and have some control.

A 26-year old teaching assistant confessed Monday night in a BBC Panorama documentary that in recent months he used buy now-pay later to purchase four-five jackets. There are no need for so many coats.

Attractiveness in Energy

Last week, Norway’s government committed to helping struggling families pay their rising power bills in winter.

Its aid package is expected to cover about a third of each household’s electricity bill. As Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store put it: ‘Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.’

Norway is known for having colder winters and darker winters that Britain. But, surely, our government could also consider increasing its assistance to vulnerable households.

We report that energy bills are rising and they will continue to rise next year. If the Government axed VAT (currently 5 per cent on domestic energy bills), it would save the average household more than £60. 

Ministers could also raise the Warm Home Discount paid to customers on low incomes, which has remained at £140 for more than five years. It’s your turn, Chancellor.

Big chance?

Poor old Mr Big. After riding his Peloton bike during the Sex and The City reboot, Mr Big died from heart failure.

As he’s a fictional character, you might feel more sympathy for the fancy fitness equipment firm, whose shares tanked soon after.

The discussion led to an enthusiastic debate at Money Mail Towers over whether it was the right time to buy shares at a discount, particularly with home office workers.

But having looked at its performance overall this year, I’m thinking maybe not. The backdrop of the cost-of living crisis makes its bikes seem more costly than ever.

Are you wise to be cautious or do you miss an opportunity? I’ll be watching with interest.