News item

Payback time for loan sharks

Picture of Toby Harris NTSB Chairman

We all dream that criminals should be made to pay for their crimes in a way that directly helps the people they have hurt.  Now that dream is being made reality.  The England Illegal Money Lending Team have used funds confiscated from loan sharks to develop a wide range of teaching materials that will educate children and young people about the dangers of loan sharks and help them to manage their money wisely to avoid being trapped in the future.

The packs will be officially launched by the Chair of the National Trading Standards Board, Lord Toby Harris (pictured) during an assembly at Yeading Junior School on Monday 3rd March, and are available to download via the following link: http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/stoploansharks.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team, who investigate and prosecute illegal money lenders, commissioned WA partnership, a leading financial education consultancy, to create a series of colourful, interactive teaching resources that can be used with children and young people of all ages and abilities to learn about money management and the dangers of using illegal money lenders, as part of a national cross-curricular campaign

The resources were developed and piloted with a number of schools around the country and have been awarded a pfeg (Personal Finance Education Group) quality mark.  They were funded with cash confiscated from convicted illegal money lenders under proceeds of crime legislation. Aimed at 5 -19 year olds with tailored packs available for primary and secondary school teachers, they encourage young people to think about their needs and wants, develop an understanding of credit and sensitively look at the issues of loan sharks.

To request a hard copy of the pack contact: Catherine.wohlers@birmingham.gov.uk . More than 2500 people working in education have already requested the packs. 

Lord Toby Harris Chair of the National Trading Standards Board said 'These resources are designed to help children develop an understanding of money management and prevent them from falling victim to loan sharks. The sooner we can educate these young consumers about the pitfalls of loan sharks, the more likely they are to make solid financial decisions.' 

Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said “Money management is a vital part of children’s education, and it is important we develop an understanding of the dangers of loan sharks with our youngsters. Not only will this help to send a preventive message, when children reach adult life but it is hoped that they will also share what they have learnt with their families, so they know where to turn if they have been a victim of this crime.

Juliet Wells from WA partnership said: “We are delighted to have been able to work with the IMLT and teachers across the country to produce such a worthwhile and appealing range of materials.  These resources will help future generations make the most of their money and keep them from the clutches of loan sharks.”

Cllr David Simmonds, Cabinet Member for Education and Children's Services at the London Borough of Hillingdon, said: 'Hillingdon Council has been working hard to incorporate financial education into the school curriculum.  Money management is an important life skill and one that we are keen to develop amongst our children. These resources will not only help them understand the danger of loan sharks but also help raise awareness of the issue amongst their family members and the wider community. Education has an important role to play in stamping out this illegal activity”

Carole Jones, Headteacher at Yeading Junior School, said “We equip our pupils with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions and choices about money, so that they can apply this in real life situations. These resources are a valuable tool in teaching not only them, but their families about the danger of loan sharks.”

To report a loan shark:

Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222 

Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003 

 E-mail reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk 

 Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject

***ENDS***

Media Call 

Date and Time: Monday 3rd March, assembly 9am, media opportunities 9.30am

Location: Yeading Junior School, Carlyon Road, Hayes, UB4 ONR 

For more information contact Sarah-Jane Lynch, Illegal Money Lending Team communications officer, on 0121 693 1030 or 07881617119 or email sarah-jayne.lynch@birmingham.gov.uk. To speak to the National Trading Standards Board with a more general enquiry please contact the Trading Standards Institute press office on 0845 6089430 or pressoffice@tsi.org.uk.

Notes to editors

Loan Sharks as a National Problem:

An estimated 310,000 individuals across the country are in debt to a loan shark, and we have seen first hand the devastating impact this crime can have on families and communities.  Loan sharks will trap borrowers into spiralling debt, and have been known to resort to intimidation, violence, threats or worse to force people into paying back far more than they have borrowed and can afford. We will not tolerate this criminal behaviour and are continuing to crack down on it. Please contact 0300 555 2222 in confidence if you or anyone you know has been the victim of a loan shark.

Stop Loan Shark Resources:

 

  • encourage money management and saving from a very early age- helping  very young children to recognise coins through to encouraging older children to think about how they would plan income and expenditure sheets.
  • focus on the issue of illegal money lending, with a cartoon about a penguin who borrows from a loan shark to fix a broken fishing rod for 5-11 olds, to looking into real life case studies with 11-19 years olds. The packs will include real life context, so can even be used for continued learning for older pupils or other members of the community. 
  • tie in with many different subject areas, and compliment financial education which will become compulsory from September this year, as part of Maths lessons from key stages 1-4 and Citizenship lessons from key stages 3-4. 
  • the packs are part of the Team’s ongoing work to educate the next generation to steer clear of illegal money lenders. The Team have worked with schools, across England hosting assemblies on the issue and encouraging pupils to get involved with drama, design and other activities which enable them to learn about the dangers. 

 

The Stop Loan Sharks Project consists of three Illegal money lending teams in England, Scotland and Wales.  The NTSB has responsibility for the England and Wales Illegal Money Lending Teams that are hosted by Birmingham City Council and Cardiff Council. There are separate arrangements in place in Scotland. 

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured 308 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 192 years-worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £42 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 23,000 people.

The Illegal Money Lending Teams in England and Wales work in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities in their related countries. They consist of specialist officers who investigate and prosecute illegal money lending and related activity and LIAISE officers who support victims and raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders. 

The National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards. 

NTSB provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.

About Yeading School

Yeading School has been recognised by Pfeg as a Centre of Excellence for Personal Finance Education.

The school is proud of its banking system and currency, known as the Yeado, which links directly to its cross curricular work in financial education.  Children earn Yeados for attendance, good behaviour and are also able to earn bonuses for producing homework early. The children can save the Yeados or spend them and they do of course earn interest for saving.

There is a children’s board of bank directors working under the direction of a teacher chief executive who monitors and directs the work of the internal banking system.  Children from Year 3 to Year 6 use the currency and each class has its own banker who records the transactions onto an excel spreadsheet.  Children are able to purchase goods from the Yeado shop.

The curriculum has been enhanced through working in this way and children are able to apply their knowledge and skill equipping them to be able to make informed decisions and choices when faced with the complexity of real life situations. The Loan Shark materials further enhance the children’s learning on this subject.

Ends

DATE: 27 February 2014