A DEBT charity has released figures showing a dramatic rise in the number of people from East Renfrewshire seeking help over the spiralling costs of payday loans.
New data reveals that 26 per cent of StepChange clients from East Renfrewshire had active payday loans in the first three months of 2013 — an increase from 16% in 2012.
The average amount of these loans rose significantly between 2011 and 2012, from £629 to £1,762, marking East Ren higher than the UK average of £1,665.
Local figures have fallen only slightly this year, with the East Ren average sitting at £1,591 in March.
The figures coincide with calls from Citizens Advice for regulator the Consumer Finance Association (CFA) to ban irresponsible lenders.
According to East Ren councillor Ian McAlpine, it’s an ever-increasing problem for constituents.
The labour man submitted a motion to East Renfrewshire council in March to block access to payday loan websites from all council computers.
The motion was passed, and the idea has since been adopted by Labour-led councils throughout the country.
He told The Extra: “Money Advice and Citizens Advice are seeing a lot more people through the door, and I’m being contacted by many residents about payday loans.
“People are getting themselves into debt and they don’t know how they’re going to pay it back, because it’s not explained properly.
“It’s also far too easy to access — there’s little credit checking, and no references required. It really is a nightmare situation.”
Councillor McAlpine added: “Every circumstance is complicated, so it’s important to sit down with someone who knows what they’re talking about.
“I’d encourage anyone facing financial problems to seek help from money advice on 0800 052 1023, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Sharon Bell, head of StepChange Scotland, commented: “The dramatic rise in problem payday loan debt is alarming as this type of debt is very expensive and can quickly spiral out of control.
“Regulators are taking some action but there are still widespread problems across the payday loan sector.
“It’s crucial that anyone struggling to repay what they owe at the end of the month doesn’t just roll their loan over and rack up very high charges, but takes control and seeks advice instead.”
To find out more about the charity, call StepChange free on 0800 138 1111, or visit www.stepchange. co.uk.