Northamptonshire County Council is blocking access to payday loan websites at the county’s libraries following an approach made by the county’s Citizens Advice Bureau service.
Instead, library staff will refer customers to providers of independent advice and to credit unions.
Why have payday loan websites been blocked?
The move was prompted by Central and East Northamptonshire Citizens Advice Bureau’s recent acquisition of flagship Consumer Empowerment Partnership lead status – enabling it to work across the region, to educate consumers and improve enforcement where traders break the law, an initiative which will involve it working with trading standards departments around the region.
“We’ve obviously been aware for a number of years about the pernicious and growing problem of payday loans" said Martin Lord, Chief Executive of Central and East Northamptonshire Citizens Advice Bureau.
"These companies operate a business model which depends to some extent on advertising their products on the internet, and with interest rates as high as 5000% we are obviously keen for a very clear message to be sent out to consumers about the dangers of these loans. This is a very welcome move by the library service."
The Citizens Advice Bureau service nationally has been campaigning to bring in tighter regulation of the sector and warns that with a blizzard of benefit changes coming up, people will turn to payday lenders in increasing numbers.
“They provide a short term fix, but in the long term, our experience has been that taking out a payday loan almost always makes things worse” said Mr Lord.
“We’d encourage anyone with the sort of financial difficulties that drives people to these loans, to take independent advice in the first instance, and would also encourage people to consider using credit unions as an alternative. There is also a lot of information and support available online on our website.”
Councillor Heather Smith, county council deputy leader and cabinet member for customer services said: “These are tough times for many people and although a payday loan might seem like a good solution, their extremely high interest rates mean it is often the beginning of a huge debt that will only cause more stress and financial problems in the long run.
"It makes good sense for the library service to do what it can to protect people and discourage them from accessing these websites, and instead point them to where they can get independent advice and information.”
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