Government hunts down loan sharks

29 January 2007
The government is poised to pour new funds into a scheme to eliminate loan sharks, chancellor Gordon Brown has announced.

Around 165,000 households in the UK use illegal money lenders who charge inadmissibly high interest rates, and as many as half of these households are situated in the most deprived parts of the country, Treasury statistics show.

"Loan sharks are a blight on some of the least well off communities," commented economics minister Ed Balls.

Now, following successful pilot schemes in Birmingham and Glasgow, the government is ready to roll out tougher pursuit and prosecution programmes in regions including Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford, and Liverpool.

"These illegal and unacceptable practices will not be tolerated," Mr Balls stressed.

The National Consumer Council welcomed the move.

"Removing illegal lenders from these communities not only frees their victims from threats and intimidation, but can help people find ways to borrow more cheaply," deputy director of policy Claire Whyley said.

But greater "efforts to make more affordable credit widely accessible in poor communities" would be critical, she added.

The government recently began work on a national financial advice service to give excluded communities access to better financial information.

For more information about debt advice, click here.

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