Sep 26 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
HARD-UP people are being warned against taking out money from ‘legal loan sharks’.
Brent Council has joined a cross-council campaign to help make it difficult for moneylenders with astronomical interest rates to set up shops in the borough and loan funds to people on low incomes or benefits, causing them to fall into a spiral of debt.
Council leader, councillor Muhammed Butt (Labour), said: “In the borough as a whole the average income is £26,000, but in some of the poorer parts this is as low as £15,000, such as Stonebridge.
“It is important we protect them and tackle the loan sharks and signing up for the pledge is one way we can do that. We are also publishing reports on the issue, and supporting local credit unions.”
He addressed a meeting at Chalkhill Community Centre, Chalkhill Road, Wembley, on Wednesday, September 19, where Stella Creasy, Labour Cooperative MP for Walthamstow, in east London, spoke about the campaign.
She is working with community empowerment organisation Movement for Change and Mr Butt, and his counterpart at Camden Council, to halt the increase in loan shops and to give support to those caught up in debt.
Arthur Breens, from Ealing, told of a girl he and his wife had fostered and had helped to resolve her debt problems. She borrowed £100 and ended up with a bill of thousands to pay back without realising it.
Mr Breens, a self-employed builder, said: “I learnt about this quickly while trying to help a girl who was poor and inexperienced in the ways of finance.
“This is exactly the kind of client they target.
“To complicate things further, when she was paid, some companies had arranged to take money out of her account by direct debit.
“She didn’t realise she had signed up for that. Confusion and fear increased when letters arrived from companies she did not recognise. Debts had been sold on.”
The campaign is calling on the Football Association, whose headquarters are at Wembley Stadium, to extend regulations on inappropriate adverts on merchandise for under-18s to include loan shark companies.
■ Brent Citizens Advice Bureau can offer support on debt issues on 0845 050 5250.