Payday loans block on ERC computers

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ACCESS to payday loan websites is to be blocked across all computers belonging to East Renfrewshire council in the near future.

A cabinet meeting on March 28 considered and approved a recommendation put forward by councillor Ian McAlpine, who expressed concerns about easy access to high interest rate loans for residents facing financial difficulties.

Councillor McAlpine explained: “These lenders advance short-term loans to be repaid on the borrower’s next payday, and charges can be anything from £15-£30 per £100 borrowed.

“Some payday loans companies – many of whom are currently investing in high-profile advertising campaigns – can charge interest at over 4,000 per cent (APR).

“This level of repayment is staggering and cannot be sustainable – there are much cheaper alternatives available to those needing to borrow money.”

The paper submitted to the cabinet called for further promotion of ERC’s money advice services, and their partnership with both East Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau and East Renfrewshire Credit Union.

Councillor McAlpine added: “I’m delighted that the council has backed this paper, and see it as an important part of the work we are doing to help our residents and employees not get into unmanageable debt in the first place – and also the work we’re doing to help those who have fallen into debt out of it as quickly as possible.

“If you are thinking about borrowing money or are already in debt which you are struggling to manage, please contact one of the money advice services – they really will be able to help.

“They can identify options to help you tackle your debt and even contact your creditors on your behalf.”

In 2012 ERC’s money advice staff carried out financial assessments of 266 customers, with individual debt levels varying from £64 to more than £186,000.

To find out more about the service, call 0800 052 1023, email money@eastrenfrewshire.gov.uk or text money, plus your name, to 80800 for free.