Ulster Unionist MLA, Roy Beggs has called for a cap to be placed on the level of interest which payday loan companies can charge.
Speaking after the launch of NICVA and Advice NI’s “ Expensive Lending in Northern Ireland” discussion paper, Roy said:
“From first-hand experience of people attending my constituency surgeries in East Antrim, I am aware of and extremely concerned by the growing number of people taking out high interest loans from pay day loan companies or, worse, illegal money lenders.’
“I would firstly like to see increased resources for the advice sector which would bolster their ability to provide debt advice. In the longer term I think we need to see a cap placed on the level of interest which payday loans companies can charge. Currently, loans which come with an extremely high level of interest may only be a short term fix for people who have found themselves in debt.’
“In addition to taking out a loan with the legal payday loan companies, I am also concerned with the practice of borrowing from illegal money lenders. One of the most effective tools in combating illegal money lenders in the past has been SOCA’s powers to remove the assets of those who were unable to account for them. Unfortunately due to the SDLP and Sinn Fein blocking the National Crime Agency from becoming fully operational in Northern Ireland it will be more difficult to tackle this problem.’
“I would encourage more members of the public to come forward and provide information, even anonymously, to Crimestoppers to enable the PSNI to build up a clearer picture of those who are living of the backs of some of the most vulnerable in our society. Without intelligence and evidence it is difficult for the PSNI to put an end to loan sharking.’
NICVA-Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action
SOCA-Serious Organised Crime Agency