Plymouth Council is the first local authority in the UK to legally stop payday loan companies from placing large public adverts.
In addition to the ad ban, Internet access to the 50 most popular payday loan websites will be blocked across the Council’s entire network, which includes community centres and libraries. A growing number of councils have already enforced the website ban to prevent vulnerable people from being targeted by too-good-to-be-true payday lenders.
While banning websites is a step forward, Plymouth has really raised the game by stretching the ban to physical billboard and bus stop ads. It could be an important step in the fight to keep expensive lenders away from our high streets.
Payday loans have sky high interest rates that can throw people into a spiral of debt.
Chris Penberthy, cabinet member for Co-operatives and Community Development, said: “Plymouth’s advice agencies are taking calls daily from people who are running up huge debts that are causing stress and hardship to them and their families. We need to protect people and make it difficult for payday loan companies to operate in our city but we do recognise times are hard.”
The Council is now working with its partners to improve the accessibility of credit union services in the city centre. This is an affordable option for people who need to borrow money as it doesn’t trap them in with huge interest rates.
Payday lending should only be considered when those involved have a thorough understanding of the full costs and dangers involved. Currently it is targeted at people who are too desperate for money to do the research. They often ignore the small print and quickly fall into a spiral of debt.
It is hoped the ban on adverts will be a temporary measure until there is central support for controlling advertising by payday loan companies.
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