West Leeds worst hit by loan sharks

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DEBT and its continuing stranglehold on west Leeds will be under the spotlight at an event this week.

Help for the most affected groups and updates on the latest debt advice and policy will all be discussed at the annual West Leeds Debt Forum in Bramley on Friday.

The forum is now in its seventh year and the theme of this year’s annual meeting will be ‘Protecting The Vulnerable’.

The West Leeds area has been a regular target for loan sharks and doorstep lenders.

Figures in 2009 showed £18 million was going out of West Leeds in debt repayments alone every year – and most of that debt was with loan sharks.

This was in an area where 47 per cent of people didn’t even have bank accounts.

Among the speakers at Friday’s forum will be Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, who is an economist as well as a politician, and who campaigns on the debt issue.

“Sadly, debt still affects too many people in West Leeds – we have more pay day loan shops in Armley than banks for example,” Miss Reeves said.

“The West Leeds Debt Forum does excellent work, bringing together a range of different organisations in West Leeds, to help people in debt, and ensure that people don’t have to face debt.”

Miss Reeves’ predecessor John Battle also highlighted the area’s debt issues. Last year he asked for a 30 per cent cap on interest rates charged by doorstep lenders who offer loans to the poorest families.

The forum will also hear from other expert speakers including Leeds City Council’s Economic Policy Team and the Consumer Financial Education Body.

A debt advice ‘service map’ of the city will also be presented by the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and Burley Lodge.

The West Leeds Debt Forum starts from 9.45am at St Margaret’s Church, Newlay Lane, Bramley.

Norah Gibson, who chairs the forum, said debt remained a “major issue” in west Leeds.

The aim of the forum was to “work to prevent debt in Leeds and help more of those who are already in debt” she said.

For more information call Norah Gibson on (0113) 2570966 or email norah.gibson@tiscali.co.uk

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