Confiscated Loan Shark Cash up for Grabs

By on 12/03/2012 in News

Local groups are encouraged to bid for cash, which has been confiscated from illegal money lenders, as part of an initiative organised by the England Illegal Money Lending Team, hosted by Birmingham City Council.

The 'Your Choice' scheme will give residents a say in how money taken from loan sharks is spent to improve their community. The specialist Team who investigate and prosecute loan sharks, have put forward £5,000 worth of proceeds of crime money, to fund as many projects as possible.

This money was extorted from communities by loan sharks, and will now be ploughed back in whichever way residents see fit.

Loan sharks often trap borrowers into spiralling debt through exorbitant rates of interest and arbitrary extra charges. When people were unable to pay many will resort to bully tactics such as intimidation, threats or violence.

The scheme aims to see the money these loan sharks made, used wisely, to benefit key areas.

Local residents, charities, community and voluntary groups, schools and statutory agencies benefiting those that live in Tyburn, Shard End or Hodge Hill are all welcome to apply for the cash, to spend on any worthwhile community project which does one of the following: 

  • Contributes to raising the awareness of the dangers of using 'loan sharks'
  • Promotes professional credit options to people at risk of using 'loan sharks'
  • Promotes financial management or budgeting to people at risk of using 'loan sharks'
  • Reduces crime and disorder in the local area

 Applicants have until Friday 25th May 2012 to place their bids.

 Those who meet the above criteria will then be invited to showcase their projects to local community members at an event at Castle Vale Tenants and Residents Alliance, Spitfire House on Friday 15th June. The community will then vote on how they would like the money to be spent, with the winning projects being awarded the cash during an awards ceremony on this day.

 Councillor Neil Eustace, Chair of the Public Protection committee said “It is hugely positive to see the cash, which has been taken from loan sharks put to good use to benefit Birmingham communities, and fitting that that residents are given a choice in how the cash is spent.  We will continue to work with the England Illegal Money Lending Team to show that there is no place for these criminals in Birmingham and as always would encourage people to turn away from loan sharks, as they cause nothing but misery and fear.”

 Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said “Illegal money lenders are a scourge on our communities, and can have a hugely detrimental impact on the lives of their victims. Through schemes such as this, we are able to use this money for something positive and help to prevent these criminals from operating in the future. We would always urge victims of illegal money lenders to seek help by contacting us in confidence on 0300 555 2222”

 To ensure that a number of projects can be funded groups can apply for up to a maximum of £500 per project idea. They can submit more than one project but the total per group must not exceed £1000

  For an application form contact Catherine.wohlers@birmingham.gov.uk or call 07500809339.

 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

Find us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject

Log-on to www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks

                                                         Ends

 Note to editors: Funded by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, the Stop Loan Sharks Project consists of three Illegal money lending teams; England, Scotland and Wales. Working in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities up and down the country, the England Team consists 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 project piloted in 2004, and expanded in 2007. So far the project has secured more than 200 prosecutions leading to custodial sentences in excess of 130 years.

 Sarah-Jane Lynch - Communications Officer

Illegal Money Lending Team - Trading Standards

 Telephone: 0121 693 1030 or 07881617119

E-mail:  sarah-jayne.lynch@birmingham.gov.uk

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