In today's economic climate, it's more important than ever that people on low incomes have access to affordable credit options, so they don't end up with huge debt problems - and aren't driven to illegal loan sharks.
points this out in a new report that looks at financial inclusion and high-cost credit in other countries - France, Australia and Germany in particular - to see what we can learn from them.
'Mainstream banks,' the organisation's website states, 'must follow the lead of their overseas counterparts and do more to promote social lending to help fill affordable credit gaps in the UK.'
Introducing a cap on legal high-cost lending could help people with low incomes avoid unmanageable debt, but might also cause unintended side-effects. It could, for instance, drive more people to loan sharks.
So the Government's going to look into this - but whatever it decides, Consumer Focus stresses, social lending in this country really needs to be improved if we're to make sure low-income households have access to affordable credit.
"High-cost credit can be crippling and can lead some people into a debt trap it is difficult to escape from," said Marie Burton, financial services expert at Consumer Focus. "A cocktail of falling incomes and increasing living costs could lead to more people using high-cost credit to fill the gaps and falling into trouble.
"At the moment we have the worst of both worlds - high-cost credit and very little in the way of affordable alternatives. Capping interest rates is one option, but unless other affordable options are put in place this risks driving people to illegal loan sharks."
Mark Lyonette, Chief Executive of ABCUL (Association of British Credit Unions Limited), said: "We welcome this report from Consumer Focus which has again recognised the value for society in having a strong British credit union sector.
"We are pleased that the Government has also recognised this value with the results of a feasibility study due very soon into if and how the Department for Work and Pensions will invest up to £73 million to modernise and expand the credit union sector and with HM Treasury continuing to push through vital legislative reforms for the sector which are due in the new year."