Birmingham to run England-wide anti-loan shark project

By on 31/12/2010 in News

A Government announcement has been made which secures the funding and the future of the National Illegal Money Lending Project.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced that £5.2 million pounds for 2011 has been committed to the project, put in place to reduce illegal money lending activities by investigating and prosecuting offenders.

The Birmingham City Council-based team that previously covered five regions across England will now extend to operate in the whole of England. This secures the posts of at least 20 staff based in Birmingham and working to eliminate illegal lenders across the country.

The announcement is a real vote of confidence for the Birmingham team that piloted the original illegal money lending project in 2004 and has been at the forefront of tackling illegal lending. 

Consumer Minister Edward Davey pledged similar funding for 2012 and 2013 as part of the Government's commitment to protecting consumers during the economic recovery. The future model of the project will be transformed into a new three team approach - consisting of three country-wide teams covering England, Scotland and Wales. This will ensure maximum savings for the British public while maintaining the necessary local community presence.

Edward Davey wants to ensure that all the required resources are used with greatest effect to bring illegal money lenders to justice and said: “This is a good project – they are taking the fight to loan sharks in communities up and down the country.

“It is extremely pleasing that despite the huge budget deficit we have been able to find the funding to continue this important work. People who prey on the vulnerable will not be tolerated and these teams will help lead the fight against these crooks.

“But at a time when extremely tough public spending decisions have to be made, we have also taken a long hard look at whether we can deliver the same outcomes in a more efficient way. I believe our new structure does exactly that - I'm confident it will bring efficiency savings and even better results.”

A recent report by Policis showed an estimated 310,000 households are borrowing from illegal lenders.

The report showed how illegal lenders “hollow out” the finances of their victims, compromising their quality of life. Many victims are left with affordability problems, debt related stress and other mental health problems.

However through the work of the team, considerable progress has been made not only with enforcement but also with helping victims. A change has been made in awareness of illegal money lending throughout partner agencies and significant progress has been made working with victims, showing them that the team can support them.

The team continues to encourage people across England to come forward, if they believe they or someone they know is the victim of an illegal lender.
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
Log-on to www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks
Note to editors:

1. The illegal money lending team was set up as a pilot in Birmingham in 2004 to cover the West Midlands, with a sister scheme piloted in Scotland, and proved so successful it received further government funding and now also covers the north west, south east, east of England and Yorkshire and Humber. Other teams have been set up to cover the rest of Great Britain. The Stop Loan Sharks project is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

2. Since the project launched as a pilot scheme in 2004, including the subsequent growth into seven regional teams in 2007 there have been many successes nationally: Over 180 prosecutions have been brought forward for illegal money lending and related offences, leading to 107 years worth of prison sentences. The teams have also written off £37million worth of illegal debt and helped over 16,000 victims.

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  1. Kavan Hawker says:

    It is excellent to see Birmingham leading the lightening war on loan sharks.

    These people are truly despicable in both their acts and their nature, cause immense distress and anxiety to both their victims and the communities they live in, leave a horrific legacy and mental scarring behind for their victims, and bring shame on both our city and our nation.

    Loan sharks must all be brought to justice and severely punished for the benefit of all.

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