I appear to be stalking Simon Read of The Independent. If so, that’s because payday loans are again in the news and this is a story and a cause he has taken up and because he writes well on the subject.
The latest twist in the story: research by Shelter (a UK housing charity) reveals around seven million people are turning to credit to try to keep a roof over their heads.
A million use payday loans to cover rent or mortgage
In the past year alone, almost one in seven of those – i.e. just under one million people – have resorted to payday (i.e. emergency) loans to cover rent or mortgage payments.
The Independent has warned that payday lenders are cashing in on the struggles of millions who are unable to borrow from mainstream lenders and those companies charge interest rates of up to 5,000 per cent.
The impressive Campbell Robb, CEO of Shelter, said that this “… shows the extent to which millions of households across the country are desperately struggling to keep their home.
“Turning to short-term payday loans to help pay for the cost of housing is totally unsustainable. It can quickly lead to debts snowballing out of control and to eviction or repossession and ultimately homelessness.”
What’s the alternative?
I cannot disagree with anything that’s been said above. It’s a sad state of affairs and I’ve no doubt payday loan companies in general are cashing in on the misery, despite what was said by the boss of Wonga to Simon Read and which I reported in an earlier post. There have been calls for these firms to be outlawed. But for the people who feel they have no alternative, what will they do if that happens?
Anyone in debt crisis who consults an adviser at one of the debt charities – such Citizens Advice or National Debtline or CCCS, here in the UK – would probably be told to avoid payday loans. But I wonder how many of the million people mentioned in Shelter’s report have actually talked to such an adviser.
I know that these resources are stretched; and as the charities reply to some extent on grants from the public sector, they may well become even more stretched because of spending cutbacks.
Need for financial advice
I don’t know the full answer – and of course it’ll be different in every case – but wider access to free, impartial and high-quality financial advice must be part of it. What’s more, financial education has to have a higher priority than it does now.
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For the Simon Read article (4 Jan) click here:
For information about my book “Back to the Black”, click here: