This evening, dozens of Movement for Change activists will host a ‘Night of Action’ in Wembley to call for an end to legal loansharking. We’ll be joined by Arthur Breen, whose foster daughter (whom he refers to as “G” to protect her anonymity) found herself in a spiral of debt after taking out an apparently modest loan several months ago. In a recent meeting, he recalled how G came to use legal loansharking companies:
“G had a statement of educational needs when at school. She left our foster care 16 years ago and went back to live with her parents. For those 16 years she has been employed, but her current job pays monthly and not weekly. If you are on low pay and not good at managing money, being paid monthly makes things much more difficult. Add in some depression with her domestic circumstances, a small amount of alcohol, some gambling and a social environment where the culture of lending/borrowing and barely coping are the norm, and you have the perfect target for High Street and Internet loan companies.”
In nearly every High Street in the country payday loan companies are taking over, often charging high rates of interest to people who cannot afford the repayments. G’s story is fairly typical of ones I’ve heard delivering training across the UK, from rural Lincolnshire to urban London. The result can be misery, leaving people in a spiral of debt and increasing desperation. Arthur told me how G used between 6 to 8 companies in a chain of borrowing and repayment. She lost track of how much and to whom she owed money. The problem spiralled out of control and £100 quickly became £1000.
This evening, we’re turning our attention to the way in which these companies gain a foothold in local communities and in the minds of potential borrowers. We’ll focus on legal loanshark advertising in football, calling on the Football Association to enforce its own regulations and ban these companies from advertising on children’s football strips and merchandise.
If the FA took this simple step, it will further our activists’ demand that the Government acts to cap the cost of credit. And it will, at the very least, send a clear message about what we do – and do not – want our football clubs to stand for.
Kathryn Perera is the Chief Executive of Movement for Change. Find out more about Legal Loansharking actions and training here