Payday loan websites blocked from all council computers

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A decision to block payday loan websites from all of a council’s 7000 computers has been met with approval.

Anyone trying to access lending sites from any of Derbyshire County Councils computers will instead be re-directed to sources of safe, affordable loans such as Credit Unions, financial support services and welfare rights advice.

The move will affect all of the computers owned by the council across the county including those in libraries and those used by its employees.

Derbyshire County Council cabinet member for health and communities, cllr Dave Allen said: “There have been a number of recent cases in Derbyshire of people who’ve taken out a payday loan then come to us for help when they’ve found themselves in difficulty.

“People who take out this kind of loan can become permanently indebted to the company, which has a hugely harmful impact on their life and future finances.

“The action we’re taking will not only discourage access to payday loans but will also demonstrate our concern as a community leader about the significant financial and social costs.”

It follows concerns about very high interest rates charged by payday loan companies on short-term loans - in some cases over 2,000 per cent on a 12-month period - and research by the Office of Fair Trading which identified a range of poor practices.

These include unfair charges and penalties for people struggling to repay loans and irresponsible lending where checks are not made to ensure customers can afford repayments.

There are around 240 payday loan companies in the UK which target people struggling to budget. Current estimates suggest that around one million adults regularly borrow in this way.

The council will prevent access to around 25 websites of the main national lender websites - identified on their share of the market - and a small number of the most active locally based lenders which combined should restrict access to more than 80 per cent of the current sources of payday loan borrowing.

The county council recently approved £360,000 additional funding to Derbyshire’s Credit Unions to enable them to offer affordable instant access loans for people in need.

Advice about managing money and debts, budget planning, loans and credit is available at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/welfarerights

Have you been affected by payday loans? Email ellie.hunter@derbyshiretimes.co.uk