Tuesday, 30 November 2010


Now that Christmas is fast approaching, many people (me included) are wondering how we are going to pay for it. This time of year people are under considerable pressure to spend more money than they can afford, the situation is worse now because of the current economic climate. People need to think very carefully about where they get credit from, especially during difficult economic times, people may be tempted by disreputable lenders such as doorstep lenders and loan sharks who could lead people into uncontrollable levels of debt.

Debt is a serious issue, and unmanageable debt can have serious and far reaching consequences in terms of family life and mental health and is something that can affect people across every community. When people get into serious debt they can feel pretty isolated as this can make them more vulnerable to the exploitation of loan sharks and other disreputable lenders. To avoid any trouble with disreputable lenders seek help immediately from the police or the Citizen's Advice Bureau as the lender may well have behaved illegally.

Illegal money lenders can range from small time loan sharks to violent and organised criminals operating throughout Welsh communities. Launched in February 2008, the Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit (WIMLU) raises awareness of the dangers of loan sharks and provides advice and support to victims. Since its launch, the unit has helped 1,412 victims of illegal money lending. The Unit also works to stop illegal money lenders operating in Wales. Since 2008 their investigations have led to the arrest of 43 loan sharks.

The Plaid driven Welsh government is committed to the establishment and development of credit unions, as a form of social enterprise, in all parts of Wales. So far the One Wales government has achieved all-Wales coverage of Credit Unions, has established access for secondary pupils and helping credit unions to offer more Child Trust Fund accounts. Credit Unions have a hugely important role to play, offering, not just affordable credit but also valuable advice on budgeting.

The former New Labour Government did not do enough to tackle doorstep lenders and loan sharks. We need to look at other ways of protecting vulnerable people in debt. Plaid Cymru has campaigned in Westminster for a cap on interest charged by lenders. This would be an invaluable tool in tackling problems with doorstep lenders and loan sharks and Plaid will continue to campaign for this and any other means of tackling the problem of disreputable lenders.

Plaid AM Helen Mary Jones said:

Plaid Am Helen Mary Jones
“We all know that Christmas can be a very difficult time financially for many families, it is vital that everyone is aware of the risks of loan sharking to people in our communities. Loan sharks very often appear to offer seemingly helpful solutions to people's money worries. Here in Wales, Plaid in government has worked hard to increase the number of Credit Unions in Welsh communities and at a Westminster level Plaid MPs are committed to continuing their fight for the introduction of a cap on interest charges. I would strongly recommend anyone in need of financial assistance to use Credit Unions instead of turning to loan sharks. Credit Unions are now well established in Wales, and can offer affordable credit and valuable advice on budgeting."

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