Desperate North teens are saddling themselves with payday loan debt with the help of their parents, it is claimed today.
A shock report by Action For Children has unearthed “worrying levels of borrowing” in the region among young people aged from 12 to 18.
Research by the charity reveals one in eight borrowed money from companies and an alarming 41% said they had used a payday loan company.
While it is illegal for anyone aged under 18 to get credit, Newcastle’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) said staff had dealt with cases where parents or guardians had sought payday loans on a youngster’s behalf.
And bureau Chief Executive Shona Alexander said the hidden debt epidemic is leading to relationship breakdown within families as teenagers – the age group most likely to be on a zero hours contract – struggle to repay relatives.
“It is a serious problem,” said Shona, who called for the credit age to be raised to 25. “We know that young people have forged the signatures of adults and that they have pressured parents or grandparents into getting a loan for them or being their guarantor.
“When they can’t pay them back, the adult’s credit rating is seriously damaged and then it is not just a debt problem but a relationship problem.
“Young people don’t know how to manage money. Something needs to be done.”
Frontline staff see young people seeking debt money to replace household goods, set up their first home or keep up with pals. High street lenders, including store cards, were used by a third (38%) of those able to get credit, the survey said.
Action For Children said the Government must fund more debt education to stop another generation of young people from a cycle of debt and bad credit.
It comes as the charity publishes its Paying The Price report ahead of Christmas amid fears the expensive festive season could be a trigger.
The report unveils how that 55% of children have not received any financial education.
And of those who had, 87% learnt from parents or carers while just 27% learnt about money at school.
The CAB added its Stockton branch had run a successful service helping to educate young people on the dangers of debt which had now disappeared because of public sector cutbacks.
Shona added aggressive marketing campaigns from payday loan companies were attractive to young people and credit firms were likely to change tack after reforms in 2015 to sell more guarantor-style short-term loans.
“Young people don’t understand interest rates and they don’t get into the regular habit of saving,” she said. “We have really got to start education at primary school age and keep that going. Too much of the debt education that we have is short-term.”
John Egan, Action for Children’s operational director of children’s services, said by becoming bogged down with debt from a young age, countless young people from the region could have their future marred by unemployment and mental health problems as a result.
He said: “High interest products and companies are now far too easy for young people to access.
“Some young people are less likely to have the financial skills they need, they may have to live on a low income or are not in education. They are also not able to learn about money at home or at school where other young people do. Add in baffling financial jargon and a lack of knowledge will dramatically create a vicious circle of debt, increasing the risk of mental health problems and unemployment.
“We cannot afford to let children pay this price because of a simple lack of financial education. They must be equipped with the necessary skills to make informed money decisions to give them a chance of a happy future.”
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Chronicle, 14 Dec 2014
Changes to the payday loans market could drive desperate consumers straight into the arms of loan sharks, a North-East academic has warned.
A cap on the amount that payday lenders can charge customers has been announced by the Financial Conduct Authority.
But Professor Mark Davies, of Teesside University’s school of social sciences, business and law, fears the changes will enable loan sharks to strengthen their positions in local communities.
Prof Davies, who has carried out extensive research into the payday loans market and the needs of borrowers, believes the new measures are a positive move, but will not help all borrowers.
“While this is definitely an improvement from a borrower’s perspective, there are a number of remaining issues,” he said.
“In particular, it has been speculated that many payday lenders will leave the market to set up elsewhere or change their business model.
“If legitimate payday lenders leave the industry, this will leave less choice to borrowers, with the possibility of loan sharks strengthening their positions in local communities.”
The changes by the FCA will see payday loan rates capped at 0.8 per cent per day of the amount borrowed. In total, no one will have to pay back more than twice what they borrowed, and there will be a £15 cap on default charges.
“A person in financial desperation, as many of these people are, cannot simply resist a loan,” he said.
“What is needed is a mechanism for identifying and targeting these people at much earlier points, before the pain of irreversible debt mounts up.”
Professor Davies is currently leading a research project to find out more about the types of consumers who consider payday loans and the consequences it has on their lives.
He has gathered detailed accounts from a number of third sector organisations and has held focus groups with people who have taken out payday loans.
“The new regulations are welcome but they will not help all borrowers,” he said. “Some will return to loan sharks.
The Guardian is reporting that payday loan comparison sites are hiding £75 charges for their services in their small print and are specifically targeting benefits claimants.
Visitors, who often do not even get a loan, are having the money taken from their account and their bank details passed on to up to 200 other payday loan brokers, who may also try to take money from the same accounts.
In August alone, Nat West says that there were a million attempts by payday loan brokers to take money from customers’ accounts.
Astonishingly, the scammers are usually authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, who have given over 5,000 licences to payday loan brokers before actually beginning to check up on them.
According to the Guardian:
“NatWest said it is seeing as many as 640 complaints a day from customers who say that sums, usually in the range of £50 to £75, have been taken from their accounts by companies they do not recognise but are in fact payday loan brokers.”
The banks also claim that scammers:
“. . .push their charges through bank payment processing systems between midnight and 3am, knowing that state benefit payments are added to accounts just after midnight. When the person living on unemployment or disability benefit wakes in the morning, they find their money has already vanished.”
Source – Benefits & Work, 29 Oct 2014
A Rap song has been released in tribute to the Archbishop of Canterbury‘s warnings about payday loans.
We Need A Union On The Streets, by music producer Charles Bailey and featuring the rapper Question Musiq, was inspired by the former Bishop of Durham, the Most Rev Justin Welby‘s efforts to expand Britain’s network of credit unions.
The song tells the story of young people who get into debt because of payday loans and features the words of personal finance guru Martin Lewis in which he warns that “payday loans gone wrong are a horrendous thing”.
The song has the chorus
“What we need is a union, we need a union on the streets/Everybody hand in hand, people can’t you understand”
and the verse
“Yeah it’s unfair/But they don’t care/The rich get richer/While poor get less”.
The release comes after a national network aimed at offering an alternative to payday lenders was launched last month by Sir Hector Sants, who is heading a task group for the Archbishop on promoting credit unions.
The scheme is being piloted in the Southwark, Liverpool and London Church of England dioceses.
Mr Bailey, who has worked on social campaigns to combat gun violence and has also set the speeches of the late Tony Benn to music, said he had felt “moved” to help the task group.
“When I listened to the Archbishop of Canterbury speaking out about pay day lenders I felt moved to do something to help his task group to reach to the urban youth who are often the victims and introduce them to a much safer and ethical way of borrowing through credit unions,” he said.
Mr Lewis said: “The payday loan industry is relatively new, and has used powerful marketing to build its business and groom young people to think it is normal.
Dr Elizabeth Henry, the Church of England’s adviser for minority ethnic Anglican concerns, said: “Efforts like this help the Church to extend its reach and engage with people on issues that affect their everyday lives.
“The song is appealing and I hope will get the message across to all communities that credit unions are a much safer way to borrow.”
The pay day lenders have argued that their loans are intended to be repaid over a short term and fill a gap left by the High Street banks. But Archbishop Welby has expressed concern that these loans are tempting people into a spiral of debt.
The Consumer Finance Association declined to comment on the recording.
Source – Durham Times, 11 July 2014
This article was written by Patrick Wintour, political editor, for theguardian.com on Monday 14th April 2014
There has been a 60% spike in the number of people seeking advice about paying bills as a result of increases in the length of benefit sanctions, according to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).
A year after the limits were introduced, Ipsos Mori research found a third of people affected have been forced to cut back on essential items. Around 25% have looked for a job after being hit by the cap, while 45% plan to do so in future. The survey looked at 1,000 people out of more than 38,600 households that have been caught by the new rules.
The government extended the period Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) is withheld from one week to four weeks last October. There have been repeated reports that JSA claimants feel they have suddenly lost benefit on the basis of arbitrary decisions for which they have been given no warning or little explanation.
An independent review of the sanctions regime commissioned by DWP is yet to be published, but the latest CAB figures suggest there is an urgency to the issue that ministers have yet to grasp. Polls suggest the DWP would feel under little pressure to soften any aspect of the welfare regime.
The CAB – which is a free advice service – said that since the sanctions regime was toughened, it has helped clients with over 15,000 JSA sanction problems. The increase in the numbers seeking help is disproportionate to the increase in the number of sanctions being applied by the DWP.
Under the previous one-week sanction claimants could cope, the CAB said, but a four-week withdrawal of access to benefit led people into desperate measures including approaching loan sharks.
Publishing its research, the CAB said: “People are struggling to pay their bills, rent and put food on the table. Many clients are forced to turn to food banks and even payday loan companies. With all this on their plate people are distracted from looking for a job, so they’re less likely to get into work.”
The CAB said: “From October to December last year one in four Citizens Advice clients with a JSA sanction problem had dependent children, one in four identified as being disabled or suffering from a long-term health condition, one in six also had a debt problem, and one in 10 had issues with rent arrears or threat or reality of homelessness.”
The chief executive of CAB, Gillian Guy, said: “The minimum four-week sanction is setting people up to fail and creating a barrier which can stop them from looking for work. Four weeks is a long time to go without money to get by and people are struggling to make ends meet.
“The success rate of sanction appeals reveals a culture of ‘sanction first and ask questions later’. This is not only ineffective and a huge waste of money but also has a devastating effect on thousands of people’s lives.
“People need a system that can take into account their situation, set suitable work search requirements and, where necessary, apply sanctions at a level that won’t limit their chances of employment.
“To date, work programme contractors have been responsible for twice as many sanctions on the people referred to them as they have successfully helped people find work. Combined with CAB’s latest figures this paints the strongest picture yet that the system is not working as it should.”
CAB pointed out that under universal credit – the new benefit integrating many existing benefits including JSA – Jobcentre staff are to be given greater flexibility in deciding the length of benefits. The CAB asked how it was possible to give staff flexibility for the incoming benefit system, but not for the current one.
Ian is a 43-year-old single father of two (aged nine and 12) living in Hastings. He has been on long-term sick leave for depression but, following a work capability assessment by Atos, was told he did not have enough points and was moved onto JSA.
Ian was put on to the work programme, though due to a staff mix-up by Pertemps he has not been receiving support to find work. He has been filling in his work-search forms and giving them to the Jobcentre. Then last Thursday Ian was told he had been given a four-week sanction for not giving enough work-search detail. He was told there were six cleaning jobs for which he could have applied, but he said that they were early morning jobs that did not fit with his responsibilities to his children.
He was given no notice or warning that he was doing anything inadequate about his work search. The money – £72 a week – just didn’t appear.
“I’ve been left high and dry. I filled in the work-search form as usual, but this time they’ve said it’s not enough. Thursday/Friday I was at rock bottom, I was in a total state. I was just thinking, where am I going to get money from?
“I had a water bill due on Friday, but the direct debit bounced as no money had gone in. I’m worried about my rent, as I don’t know if my housing benefit will come in now I’ve been sanctioned. Then at 5pm on Friday I got a hardship payment through so I can look after my kids. The crux of the issue is that they should give you some warning or notice that they are going to deduct some money. Otherwise the only two options at the end of the day are to borrow money or commit a crime.”
He adds that he took out a £100 emergency loan that will require repayment of £160. Ian is appealing his sanction, as he has a letter from Pertemps stating he has not been getting the support he should have due to an administrative mix-up.
Source – Welfare News Service 14 April 2014
Payday loan sharks have trapped an increasing number of Brits into unmanageable debts and new research has revealed that this problem is increasingly getting worse.
In fact, a new report from the charity StepChange showed that the number of people seeking relief from payday lenders has shot up by 82 per cent.
Worryingly most of those vulnerable people seeking help had racked up thousands of pounds worth of debt after taking out more than one loan.
According to StepChange, people seeking advice in 2013 held an average of three payday loans, but at least 13,800 had five or more. The average debt was £1,647, significantly more than the average person’s monthly income of £1,381.
Many people make the mistake of taking out a payday loan believing that it is “easy money”.
However, payday loan companies are little more than legalised loan sharks that prey on vulnerable and low-income people and trap them into a cycle of debt that they cannot get rid of.
Many firms such as Wonga charge annual percentage rates (APR) of 4214%. To put it in layman’s terms and get an idea of just how quickly debt can balloon out of control, if you took out a loan of £3000 at 20 per cent APR (way below the average) and made the minimum repayment of two per cent or £5 per month, it would take you a whopping 90 years to pay it all back.
That is just at 20 per cent APR. Not at 4214% which was correct at the time this story went to print.
Now it is worth noting that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) assumes responsibility for the regulation of consumer credit in April.
Mike O’Connor, Chief Executive of StepChange Debt Charity, said that he hopes the FCA will address some of these issues.
He added: “The widespread harm and misery caused by payday loans continue unabated. The industry has failed to address the problems causing untold misery and damage to financially vulnerable consumers across the UK”.
“We hope the FCA’s proposals will address some of the areas of consumer detriment, but on issues such as affordability checking, rollover and repeat borrowing, there is an urgent need for even more radical reform”.
Unfortunately that seems unlikely, when you consider the corporate interests in maintaining high debt levels.
In fact, the StepChange charity highlighted the case of one man whose original £200 debt grew to £1,851 in just three months, thanks to inflated interest rates.
And this highlights an important problem. Most people simply do not realise just how rapidly their debts can run into the thousands before they take out a loan.
Fewer people realise that payday loan firms such as Wonga have previously advised the government on how to deal with consumer debt in the UK.
This essentially means that the government is working alongside those very companies who help to trap people into debt in the first place.
Further research conducted by YouGov for StepChange Debt Charity found that at least 26.3 million people had been offered high-interest credit such as payday loans via unsolicited marketing calls or texts.
These are often taken up by vulnerable, or desperate people who are uneducated about the high costs of loans.
And in most schools across the UK, financial management is not part of the curriculum.
Therefore, if you are struggling with money problems, avoid payday loan companies at all costs. It is better to speak to an independent charity or financial advisor who will offer help and advice for free and advise you on ways that you can make your budget go further.
> Or credit unions.
Source – Akashic Times, 28 Feb 2014
North Tyneside Council has agreed a motion to block payday loan companies websites from its computers – PCs used by all council staff and those available to the public in libraries and Customer First centres – and to prevent such companies setting up business in council-owned commercial property.
The motion also called on the government to legislate and effectively regulate payday lenders (dont hold your breath on that one…).
Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “With the soaring costs of energy and food bills, cuts in benefits and a freeze on wages it’s not suprising that more and more people feel they have no option but to take desperate measures to meet their bills.
“Our research shows that people are now borrowing on average around 326 pounds a month from these credit companies. The interest they charge is absolutely scandalous, so it’s no wonder that many people are caught in a spiral of debt and taking out more loans just to get by.
“This council is taking a significant first step by agreeing this motion, and I can guarantee there will be more action to come.”
No matter how bad things get, there will always be someone waiting to take advantage. It’s to be hoped that other councils might follow this example, as well as promoting Credit Unions as an alternative.