Leeds City Council is continuing its fight against the payday loan industry in the city as news that the level of borrowing from payday lenders in the UK has shot up by 80% in the last year.
The national debt charity Step Change has just released its latest figures which show that the number of their clients coming for help after taking payday loans was 67,000 in 2013 compared with 36,000 in the previous year.
As part of the council’s strategy to tackle this problem, a new website is being launched to signpost people across the city to free independent, financial and debt advice and more affordable credit facilities.
As part of an ongoing campaign to tackle the high cost lending market in the city, the council are building on the ‘Take a Stand’ campaign which launched in 2013 and continuing to direct people to better, more affordable financial alternatives.
The Money Information Centre (MIC) website (www.leedsmic.org.uk) will bring together all the alternatives in an easy to understand and accessible manner and provide signposting to better, independent money advice and information about benefits, debt, loans and savings, affordable credit and household budgeting. The campaign will also see support being provided through many locations across the city including, the Council’s One Stop Centres, Libraries and Housing Offices and all the cities advice agencies and credit union outlets.
Primarily the website is aimed at those who are thinking of taking a loan or who need signposting to specific financial or debt advice – but really it is an open resource for anyone to use. The estimated high cost lending market in Leeds is now worth £90m and if everyone used more affordable credit instead this would give households an extra £60m to spend on their families and in the city’s economy.
Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council 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 in the city 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 in the city to gather support towards this challenge and help to spread the message. A key element of this work is to encourage responsible budgeting and access to responsible lending”
Follow the Money Information Centre on Twitter @Leedsmic or on Facebook.com/Leedsmic.