On the 27th of February Kezia was thrilled to be able to present Cllr Maggie Chapman, the Chair of the Petitions Committee, with the Debtbusters petition signed by over 1000 people across Edinburgh. Twice the number we needed to have the petition heard.
The Petitions Committee of the Council heard our petition on the 18th of April, with Garreth Lodge, one of the Debtbuster activists making a deputation to the Committee. The Evening News covered the story here - and you can see from the quotes that there are some very encouraging noises coming from the people with power. The Committee agreed to refer the petition and it’s 5 big asks to the Corporate Policy & Strategy Committee of the Council. It met on the 11th June and agreed the following:
The decision noted by the clerk of this committee was:
2) To amend recommendation (f) in report (b) to read “and report back to the Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee within one calendar year”.
So what does that all mean?
Well, the Council has basically agreed the following:
a) recognises that this Council can make a contribution to curbing the excesses of the payday loan industry.
b) that options for a financial literacy campaign be developed.
c) that existing promotion and support for Credit Unions is continued.
d) agrees that access to payday loan websites is blocked on Council computer systems.
e) agrees that Edinburgh Trading Standards Service continues to support The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) enforcement actions following the compliance review of the payday loan sector.
f) agrees the establishment of an Officer Working Group to take forward agreed actions including further research on the following items as per recommendations of Petitions Committee and report back to Committee on progress within one calendar year.
i) the historic input the Council has had in setting up credit unions
ii) details of previous literacy campaigns
iii) the UK wide licence system and what further work is being undertaken to regulate this area.
The Original Petition
Companies which offer high interest short term loans were one of the great economic successes of 2012 - making their millions by exploiting the financial misery of 1000s of Scots.
Often charging interest rates in excess of 4000%, these companies target low income families who are struggling to pay bills and make ends meet.
These companies need regulated and our Governments also need to improve the debt relief services for those families whose debt has spiralled out of control.
…But there’s still plenty our council can do to protect people from the predatory practises of these legal loan sharks.
If you Agree with the following - SIGN THE PETITION TODAY
We call on our council to establish a task force to take on payday loan companies. Such a taskforce should start by investigating the feasibility of:
1 - Running a city wide financial literacy campaign - warning against dangers of payday loans, promoting council money advice services and ensuring maximum benefit take up.
2 - Promoting and supporting credit unions across all Council staff and related agencies.
3 - Rejecting all planning applications for payday loan shops which include a “change of use.”
4 - Blocking access to payday loan company websites in all council buildings and libraries across Edinburgh.
5 - Encouraging a crack-down on rogue payday loan lenders who flout trading standards rules with more council mystery shoppers.
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