We have all heard of individuals who have been affected by the nefarious antics of loan sharks, lenders that breach the normal fiscal rules by taking advantage of needy persons who do not qualify for support from mainstream banking sources.
The government has announced additional funding to crack down on this activity. Their announcement, published 25 April, is worth a mention.
Loan sharks face a fresh crackdown today (25 April), with more funding to tackle unlawful lending, and an increase in the amount of money seized from loan sharks to support those most vulnerable to their nasty tactics.
- over £5.5 million will be spent to fund the fight against loan sharks, helping to investigate and prosecute illegal lenders, and support their victims
- £100,000 of money already seized from loan sharks will also be spent to encourage people in England at risk of being targeted by loan sharks to join a credit union, helping them to access a safer form of finance and get their lives back on track
- and for the first time in Northern Ireland a new education project will be created to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks and to support vulnerable communities
In total, £5.67 million of funding will be provided to Britain’s Illegal Money Lending Teams (IMLT) and bodies in Northern Ireland to tackle illegal lending - a 16% increase compared to the previous year. The money will be used to investigate and prosecute illegal lenders, and to support those who have been the victim of a loan shark.
Since the Illegal Money Lending Team was established in England in 2004, they’ve made over 380 prosecutions, leading to 328 years’ worth of sentences, and have written off over £73 million of illegal debt, helping over 28,000 people to escape the jaws of the loan sharks. Similar teams operate in Scotland and Wales.
In Northern Ireland, the Consumer Council will lead its first ever education and awareness campaign to help prevent the most vulnerable from being bitten by loan sharks, and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) will get funding for a specialised officer who will lead on illegal lending within the Paramilitary Crime Task Force.
Whilst government action in these areas is to be applauded, there seems to be no concerted action to assist organisations that do provide credit to individuals who would find it difficult to obtain credit from a High Street bank or other regulated sources.