The Payday Pinch

Thursday, January 17th, 2013 @ 8:28PM

Apparently Monday was the most depressing day of the year. Whoever comes up with these facts has deduced thatthe combination of cold weather, dark nights and more than two weeks to payday leaves many people with the blues.

It is of course an incredibly difficult month for people financially. Making that paycheck go further whilst also dealing with the aftermath of Christmas. Maybe the credit card bill. Definitely the higher gas and electricity bills.

If you’re feeling that pressure now, you can relate to folk who feel this incredible strain every month and find themselves repeatedly turning to Payday loan lenders for help.

Regular readers will know that I have set up a campaign called Debtbusters which seeks to do three things. Firstly, to take on Payday loan lenders street by street – warning against the dangers. Secondly to promote credit unions in their place, making the case in Parliament for more help to support their growth; both in terms of membership but also in the variety of the services they offer. The final aspect of the campaign has been to seek to change the law.

All this work continues, and you can read about it in greater depth here, but there’s now a specifically Edinburgh angle to the campaign and I need your help.

I’ve pulled together this 5 point action plan and submitted it to Edinburgh City Council’s new petition system. If the petition gets 500 signatures by the end of February, the council will have to take its contents seriously.

If you live in the City of Edinburgh Council area, please sign the petition and email it to a friend. If you use Twitter or Facebook – why not post it on your page and help me force the Council into action.

Since I’ve started campaigning on this issue, I’ve met with dozens of organisations and many more individuals deeply incensed by the practices of these companies. I could honestly spend every minute of my day as an MSP working on this campaign, because every time I  sit down to pursue one particular angle, I find three or four others behind it.

In the last week alone I have met with the Trading Standards team of Edinburgh City Council and gained a better understanding of how council officers can crack down on misselling. I’ve met with the STUC and discussed their plans for a work place based campaign on payday loan lenders in the months ahead. A separate meeting with Cllr Paul Rooney at Glasgow City Council covered the substantive work they are doing there to try and limit the number of lenders using licensing and planning laws.

Finally, I’ve visited my own Credit Union – Capital – based in Edinburgh. Not only are they the 3rd largest credit union in Scotland, but crucially they offer an alternative to high interest payday loans. They call it a Swift 500 – and instead of an APR of 4264%, they charge just 26%.

That’s affordable credit. That’s the alternative. The light at the end of a very long January.

Sign the Petition


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