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York residents encouraged to 'fight back' against loan sharks
PEOPLE in York are being encouraged to fight back against loan sharks by signing up to an anti-loan-shark charter and joining a credit union.
City of York Council wants people to become regular savers so they do not have to turn to illegal lenders or payday loans companies.
The council is holding coffee mornings in residential areas around the city every day this week to encourage people to sign up to their anti-loan-shark charter, as part of the annual housing week.
Coun Linsay Cunningham-Cross, the cabinet member for stronger communities, was at an event in Bell Farm yesterday to raise awareness of the problems caused by illegal money lending.
She said: “With more and more families facing problems with debt, it’s imperative people are aware of the dangers of borrowing money from illegal money lenders.
“It is important people know that there are properly regulated financial alternatives to loan sharks which can give assistance to people going through tough times, and have safer access to loans.”
Bell Farm resident Beverley Smith, 39, used to be a member of North Yorkshire Credit Union before it collapsed last year. She was at yesterday’s event signing up with the city’s branch of the South Yorkshire Credit Union.
She said: “It’s definitely useful. I am no good with money, but they can take it out of your bank account and help you save for things like Christmas and birthdays, because you can get quite stressed when they are coming up. It’s helped me loads.”
Beverley used the credit union to help her pay off other debts in the past, Beverley added.
“I’ve borrowed from other people before and ended up paying double back. It’s not great, but I had to.”
The England Illegal Money Lending Team, which is funded by Trading Standards, has launched the charter with City of York Council.
They estimate that 310,000 households across the UK are in debt to a loan shark, and the team covering York is also trying to encourage people to join the credit union by offering the first 25 people to sign up a £25 voucher for their account.
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