Leeds launches a new web war on the loan shark industry

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LEEDS City Council is today launching a brand new website as part of its ongoing war on illegal and high-interest lenders.

The high cost lending market in Leeds is now thought to be worth £90m. It is estimated that if the same people used more affordable credit instead, it would give struggling households an extra £60m to spend.

The new website, the Money Information Centre, will signpost people who might be looking for a quick-fix loan to free independent, financial and debt advice and more affordable credit facilities.

The level of borrowing from payday lenders in the UK has shot up by 80 per cent in the last year. The debt charity Step Change has also revealed that its numbers of clients coming for help after taking out payday loans shot up to 67,000 in 2013, compared to 36,000 the previous year.

Leeds’s web war on unscrupulous lending is being spearheaded by council leader Keith Wakefield, who said: “In Leeds we are proud of our growing city, but there are increasingly more vulnerable people struggling to pay for everyday expenses and we are concerned about the impact high cost lenders are having on our residents and local economy.

“The Money Information Centre will bring together the debt advice agencies we have, and also responsible lenders, to offer people the best advice and signpost them in the right direction to alternative options. As a city we want everyone to come together to pledge their support in making our city free of high cost lenders, and spread the word about the viable, cost effective alternatives.

“As a council we are already tackling this issue head on, working with employers to gather support and help to spread the message. A key element of this work is to encourage responsible budgeting and access to responsible lending.”

The website is part of the city’s ongoing ‘Take a Stand’ campaign. Visit www.leeds.gov.uk/takeastand to see a video highlighting the impact of high cost lenders in the city, and to sign up to a pledge to help make Leeds a payday loan free city.

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