8 May 2019 - 9 May 2019 All day Fisher Building, St John’s College, University of Cambridge


If you would like to attend this conference, please email Jodi Gardner on jsg61@cam.ac.uk with a short description of your research interests. 

Papers will be circulated in advance of the event. Attendee numbers will be limited in order to facilitate discussion of the pre-circulated material and, unfortunately, it may not be possible for everyone who is interested to attend. 

If a place is available, a registration fee will be payable. Fees for the full two days will be £40 (full fee) or £20 (student / unwaged / charity employee) and are inclusive of lunches and refreshments.  



Jodi Gardner (University of Cambridge)

Mia Gray (University of Cambridge)

Katharina Möser (University of Birmingham)



High-cost credit and the challenges associated with financial access for vulnerable consumers has experienced increased political and media attention, but these issues are academically understudied, and discussed only to a limited extent. To respond to this challenge, we are running a two-day interdisciplinary conference on the regulatory challenges associated with low-income, high-debt consumers. The challenges of high-cost credit are complex and require a multi-faceted response. As a result, this conference aims to be strongly interdisciplinary and will involve academics from law, social policy, history and anthropology.

A range of topics will be considered, each of which will have two academic papers followed by an ‘insight from practice’ (a presentation from a government body, charity or consumer organisation) and then group discussion. These topics will include inequality, high-cost credit, the financial crisis and cultural change, the economic lives of low-income consumers, the historical aspects of debt challenges, insolvency and alternatives and Ombudsman services. We hope that the conference will be of interest to a wide range of individuals, including those from academia, the charity sector and consumer organisations.




Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) and St John's College, Cambridge.


Administrative assistance: events@crassh.cam.ac.uk.


Day 1 - Wednesday 8 May
8.45 - 9.00


9.00 - 9.30

Opening Speaker

Susan Smith (University of Cambridge; Mistress of Girton College) 

9.30 - 11.00

Session 1: The Economic Lives of Low-Income Consumers 

Johnna Montgomerie (International Political Economy, King’s College London)

'Writing-Down High-Cost Debt to Combat Debt-Based Inequality'


Mia Gray (Girton College, University of Cambridge)

'Debt Begets Debt: Austerity Britain and the Contraction of the Safety Net'


Insight from practice – David Livesey (The Cambridge City Foodbank)

11.00 - 11.30


11.30 - 13.00

Session 2: The Policy Challenges of Inequality 

Ryan Davey (Department of Anthropology, LSE)

'Class Inequality and Debt: Some Comments from Fieldwork in Post-Industrial Britain'


Sam Strong (Homerton College, University of Cambridge)

'Austerity, Credit and Inequality: Gendered Geographies of Debt, Affect and Emotion'


Insight from practice – Simon Bolton (Debt Advisor)

13.00 - 14.00


14.00 - 15.30

Session 3: High-Cost Credit: A Double Edged Sword

Karen Rowlingson (Department of Social Policy and Social Work, Deputy Director of the Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management (CHASM), University of Birmingham)

'Credit: A Double-Edged Sword in Relation to Financial (In)security and Poverty'


Lindsey Appleyard (Faculty Research Centre for Business in Society, Coventry University; CreditU)

'Payday Denied: Exploring the Lived Experience of Declined Payday Loan Applicants'


Insight from practice – Anne Wright (former CAB Advisor)

15.30 - 16.00


16.00 - 17.00

Group Discussion

Led by Mia Gray (University of Cambridge)

Day 2 - Thursday 9 May
9.00 - 10.30

Session 4: High-Cost Credit and Self-Help Remedies  

Samuel Kirwan (University of Warwick)

'Overlapping Frameworks: Credit Referencing and Legal Powers'


Carl Packman (Fair By Design Campaign, Barrow Cadbury Trust)

'Savings and Safety Nets'


Insight from practice – Richard Holland (Salford Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service)

10.30 - 11.00


11.00 - 12.30

Session 5: Insolvency and Alternatives   

Katharina Möser (Law School, University of Birmingham)  

'The Mis-selling of Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs): An Examination of the Practices of IVA Volume Providers'


Matthew Sparkes (Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge)

'Default, Stigma and Debt Management'


Insight from practice – Marini Thorne (Policy Researcher, Citizens Advice) 

12.30 - 13.30


13.30 - 15.00

Session 6: Concepts of Consumers  

Ann-Sofie Henrikson (Umeå University) 

'Consumer Protection Against Debt Problems and the Image of the Consumer in Swedish Consumer Credit Regulation'


Jodi Gardner (St John’s College, University of Cambridge)

'High-Cost Credit Consumers: Protecting the Social Minimum' 


Insight from practice – Sara Williams (DebtCamel)

15.00 - 15.30


15.30 - 16.30

Group Discussion

Led by Katharina Möser (Law School, University of Birmingham)  

16.30 - 17.00

Closing Speech

Jordan Grace (National Australia Bank)

'Good Shepherd Microfinance and National Australia Bank: Partnering to Address Financial Exclusion'

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Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk