West Ham Labour MP Lyn Brown calls for tough legislation to curb payday loan companies


- Credit: Archant

Regular readers will know that each summer I write about my holiday reading material. Some readers kindly e-mail me their own lists, or suggest useful alternatives.

As my columns aren’t so frequent nowadays, it seems wrong to use one so self-indulgently. Instead, my reading list for my coveted two-week break is on my website.

New readers having a butchers at my list, and finding it wanting in intellectual vigour, or weighty political tomes, please, have a heart – after all it is only two weeks. I am but human and I love crime fiction.

Towards the end of a busy parliamentary session, many people wrote asking me to support a Labour MP’s Bill to regulate the high cost loan industry. It is clearly a subject that resonates and it’s easy to understand why.

Payday loan companies charge massive rates of interest, with scant effort to ensure borrowers can afford it. Unaffordable debts are rolled over into new loans and spiral out of control.

Let me tell the stories of two Newham women: one, highly competent, married with a mortgage and two children; the other single, with three children, living with slight learning difficulties and unable to understand APR.

Both took out payday loans to clear unexpected bills, but began to use loans to stretch family income. Both had several loans, both had loans rolled over and both tried and failed to negotiate re-payment themselves. The companies were not interested. Both felt threatened by numerous telephone calls and visits to their homes. The loan companies’ demands overwhelmed them.

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Community Links was able to assist both women, negotiating on their behalf. How many more families face similar situations, not knowing where to find help?

Even this Government should understand that, in these tough times, legislation to curb this industry is overdue. At least, limit the number of roll-overs and require lenders to tell often-vulnerable and desperate people where to get good quality, free, impartial debt advice about missed payments. Why not levy the lenders, specifically to fund additional debt advice?

Does this Government understand? No. They refuse their support, without which the Bill won’t become law.