News item

Leeside pupils take a “Bite” out of illegal lending in Kirklees

Mug design by a pupil

 Pupils at Leeside Community Primary School helped the Illegal Money Lending Team and West Yorkshire Trading Standards “Bite Back” at the loan sharks in their community, by taking part in an innovative “design a mug” competition.

37 students, with a creative eye and flare for design, have been working with Trading Standards and the Illegal Money Lending Team, using their creative skills to come up with an eye catching design, as part of a Week of Action, which took place in the week commencing 27th January. The design created by winner Zara Amjad has been praised for its imaginative approach to raising awareness of the harm that Loan Sharks  inflict on the communities they operate in and the colourful image has been used to create a series of mugs, highlighting the confidential reporting hotline: 0300 555 2222. 

Councillor Viv Kendrick, Heckmondwike Ward member, presented Zara with first prize for her eye catching design, promoting the stop loan sharks reporting hotline. 

The design a mug competition was coordinated and delivered by West Yorkshire Trading Standards as part of the Financial Fitness community education programme, funded by Spen Valley Area Committee.  

The scheme also ties in with the launch of education resources, to educate pupils about the dangers of loan sharks, and encourage money management. For more information or to download a pack visit http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/stoploansharks.

Councillor Viv Kendrick, said: “Loan sharks can make people’s lives a misery, often preying on the most vulnerable in our communities. We want rid of these illegal money lenders and support a zero tolerance approach to them. This exciting competition engages young people, raises awareness of the activities of loan sharks and promotes the reporting number in an innovative and accessible way.

David Lodge, Head of Trading Standards in West Yorkshire, said: “we are always on the look out for new and exciting ways to engage with the local community, spreading key messages to those who need them the most. We will continue to work with our colleagues in the specialist enforcement team to raise awareness within neighbourhoods, target and shut down the loan sharks’ operations. I would urge anyone in the clutches of a loan shark to contact the confidential 24 hour loan sharks hotline – 0300 555 2222.”

Tony Quigley Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team said “Illegal money lenders can have a horrific impact on our communities, and should never be used under any circumstances. We are cracking down on unlicensed lenders who make peoples lives a misery. 

We are here to help if you have taken out a loan from an illegal money lender. Please call our confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222, if you or someone you know is in this situation.”

There are lots of rumours and myths around loan sharks and what they do. These are some of the most common ones, along with the truth:

  •  'Unlicensed money-lending is not illegal' – The truth is that it is illegal for anyone to operate a money-lending business if they don't have a licence for this from the Office of Fair Trading
  • 'If you borrow money from a loan shark, you are breaking the law' – The truth is that the loan shark is breaking the law - not the person who has borrowed the money. You can't be prosecuted for having taken a loan from a loan shark
  • 'You have to pay back what the loan shark says you owe' – The truth is that the loan is “unenforceable” – this means that you can not legally be made to pay it back, without the lender obtaining a court order.

To report loan shark activity call 0300 555 2222 to speak to experts in confidence. Alternatively, text ‘Loan shark’ with your message to 60003, email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk or send a private message at www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject.

Notes to Editors

All money lenders, operating as consumer credit businesses, must obtain a consumer credit licence from the Office of Fair Trading before engaging in the activity of money lending.  Any loans made without a consumer credit licence in force and without the correct paperwork issued are unenforceable in law.  This means that illegal money lenders use intimidation through peer pressure and violence to collect the debts.

Some examples of the problem include: loan sharks adding indiscriminate charges that the debt was increasing even though payments were being made; victims being forced into crime by the loan shark to pay off the debt and victims being forced to perform sexual acts to reduce the loan.  

For further information please contact:

Dawn Mason on 0113 393 9819 or email dmason@wyjs.org.uk

Sarah- Jane Lynch, Communications Officer at the England Illegal Money Lending Team on 0121 693 1010 or email sarah-jayne.lynch@birmingham.gov.uk 

DATE: 24 March 2014