Dumfries and Galloway politicians Russell Brown MP and Elaine Murray MSP have called for action to be taken to limit the influence of payday lenders on local communities after new figures revealed that more people than ever before in the region are seeking help from debt charity StepChange due to payday loans.
StepChange, revealed that 16% of the charity’s clients in the Dumfries and Galloway Council area had payday loans in 2012, and this figure increased to 18% in the first three months of 2013. Between 2011 and 2012 the average amount owed also increased by £269 to reach £1,486, although this declined slightly to £1,294 by March this year.
Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray said: “Payday loans are causing misery for more and more people locally. The Council and Scottish Government have the powers at their disposal to partly help curb the influence of pay day lenders. Simple steps such us supporting the work of local credit unions would help. But these latest figures reinforce the need for more national action. In the meantime I would urge anyone struggling with pay day loan debts to visit www.stepchange.org or call them on 0800 138 1111 for advice.”
Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said: “These figures are extremely worrying. Living costs, whether it is petrol or electricity bills, are rising, unemployment locally is still higher than the national average and families across the region are being hit by welfare reforms such as the bedroom tax. However, it is clear from StepChange’s figures that more and more people are taking payday loans to get through the week but these come with huge interest. The council has taken some action to prohibit access to payday loan websites in their public computers, but what we really need is action from the UK Government to provide proper regulation for these companies who prey on the most vulnerable in our community.”