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Shark-fishing in Wiltshire

July 13, 2011 12:39 PM

Wiltshire Councillors have backed a Liberal Democrat motion against the scourge of so called 'legal loan sharks' - companies which charge astronomical interest for short term loans.

A nationwide campaign has been mounted to help people avoid falling into a spiral of debt by taking on loans they may not be able to repay. The Council has highlighted Wiltshire's Credit Unions as a low-interest alternative for those in need of funds.

Cllr Jon Hubbard, Lib Dem Group Leader and proposer of the motion, congratulated Wiltshire Council "The Council have taken some positive steps. For instance, the availability of Wiltshire Money Loans is a good thing, the interest rate of just 2% per month with a representative APR of 26.8% is a fantastic alternative for residents instead of the 4214% charged by online lenders. I've asked the Council to promote these services, so every person in Wiltshire knows the affordable alternatives that are available."


The Motion in Full:

"This Council notes and welcomes the UK-wide campaign to end ' door step money-lenders.

This Council believes that the lack of access to affordable credit is socially and economically damaging with unaffordable credit causing a myriad of unwanted effects such as poorer diets, colder homes, rent, council tax and utility arrears, depression and poor health.

This Council further believes that unaffordable credit is extracting wealth from the most deprived communities.

This Council supports the principle that it is the responsibility of all levels of government to try to ensure affordable credit.

This Council therefore welcomes the various Credit Unions in Wiltshire and asks council to assist all it can in promoting them through council publications and website.

This Council urges residents who may have experienced difficulties in obtaining credit at reasonable rates to contact their local credit union and also encourages other residents to consider supporting the credit union by opening a savings account.

This Council calls on the Government to:

a) consider further measures to protect vulnerable members of the public from door step money-lending to include a cap on the total lending rate that can be charged for providing credit; and to

b) give further support to local authorities to promote access to affordable credit.


Jon Hubbard's speech to Council, Tuesday 12th July:

Mr Chairman
Let me start by sharing some information I discovered when doing research into the problems of doorstep lending
The Provident - representative APR 272.2%
Top Payday Loans - representative APR 1734%
PayDayUK - representative APR 1737%
Make Today Payday - representative APR 2623.3%
Wonga.com - representative APR 4214%
Mr Chairman, the residents of Wiltshire who are turning in desperation to these loan companies are at their wits end.
They don't know where to turn and are finding themselves tied in to loan agreements that see them paying monstrous amounts of interest to loan companies that many would consider to be operating in an immoral manner.
My motion today doesn't criticise the council, it doesn't attack the administration, and it doesn't attempt to make any political points.
My motion today asks the council to continue to support the good work that is done to provide a viable and realistic alternative to the loan sharks who trade and profit in the misery and desperation of some of the most vulnerable in our society.
My motion today asks the council to actively promote that there is an alternative to the all too attractive easy solutions broadcast into people's homes day in and day out. It asks the council to shout from the roof-tops about the good work undertaken by the Credit Unions in our communities.
My motion asks council to agree with me that it is wrong for companies to seek to monetize misery and make profit from people's misfortune.
Today I am asking council to acknowledge the impact of lack of access to affordable credit,
to take steps to better promote to options available - a great opportunity for putting a worthwhile article in the Your Wiltshire magazine maybe -
and to use our collective voice to ask central government to give us the power to prevent loan sharks setting up in our towns.
Mr Chairman, when I was elected as leader of the Lib Dem Group I made a pledge. It's a pledge I intend to keep to. I promised that where I felt the council had done something well I would say so and congratulate them.
In its response to the Bright Report Wiltshire Council has taken some positive and constructive steps.
The work of our four credit unions is admirable, the availability of Wiltshire Money Loans is a good thing, the interest rate of just 2% per month with a representative APR of 26.8% is a fantastic alternative for residents. I congratulate all those involved in making this happen.

Today's motion isn't about ignoring this good work and it isn't about trying to pretend it hasn't happened.
It's about trying to make sure that more people are aware of the affordable alternatives available to them.
It's about getting the message out to the most vulnerable in our communities that there is a better answer than Wonga.com
It's about protecting those in need, about putting the people of Wiltshire first.
I urge council to support this motion - doing so celebrates the excellent work done to date and urges more promotion of the alternative of virtual enslavement to the moneylenders.
Doing so sends a message that in Wiltshire we want fair and affordable credit, not inflated rates designed to exploit those most in need.
Doing so says that Wonga is simply wrong