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Payday Loans: 43,000 Sign Petition To Cap Interest Rates For Wonga Before House Of Lords Vote

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ARTHUR BREENS
Arthur Breens at a campaign event to stop payday loans being allowed to charge such high interest rates | Change.org

Pressure is mounting on the House of Lords to approve tough new regulations for payday lenders like Wonga, as more than 40,000 people sign a petition against the loans, which have cripplingly high interest rates.

The petition was begun by Judy and Arthur Breens on Change.org, after their experience with their foster daughter Karen, who has special education needs.

Karen, who is using a pseudonym, left school at 16 and slipped into a "cycle of debt".

Mr Breens told The Huffington Post UK: "She is a good girl but you would describe her as a vulnerable person. She works hard, but earns minimum wage. She was getting up to her neck in debt.

"There are thousands like her, you see people on the news during these floods who are sinking, but so many others are hidden, also sinking, up to their neck in dirty water of debt from these companies.

"There's such a culture of borrowing and debt nowadays. We never even borrowed a cup of sugar when I was young. But in Karen's area, friends borrow from her, she borrows from friends and every gets in trouble. That's when she went to a payday lender.

"£100 quickly became £1,000 and Karen could no longer track who she owed money to. When the threatening letters and phone calls started she was forced to leave home and started sleeping at friends houses - moving from sofa to sofa.

payday loans

Payday loan companies could have their interest rates regulated

"When I heard about all this, I tried to do what I could to help. But even with Karen’s authority these companies were almost impossible to deal with.

"They would not give me a final breakdown of how much she owed, they let the interest just keep piling up. I kept trying to pay it all off and it had been sold to so many different companies, it was impossible.

"The debts had been sold, the start dates almost untraceable, and every day the interest rates continue to increase.

"It was only the support of Karen’s bank and a solicitor that we were able to get everything on track. But now the government are taking away legal aid for people in debt in April, so that support is gone too."

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Payday lenders have already signed up to a new code of practice, which came into effect this week, devised by the Consumer Finance Association.

The new code of practice means people applying for a loan must be given clear information about the way a payday loan works and an example of the price for each £100 borrowed.

Lenders will also be asked to freeze interest on a loan as soon as they know a customer is experiencing financial difficulties.

A cap on interest rates is supported by labour, campaigned for by Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy, and the Archbishop of Canterbury's appointed successor, Rev Justin Welby.

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Bishop Welby, the current Bishop of Durham, has signed an amendment to the Financial Services Bill, which could bring in a cap on payday loans, to be debated in the House of Lords on Wednesday.

Mr Breens told The Huffington Post UK he was thrilled by the work of people like Creasy.

"There's such a lack of empathy for this among most MPs. But Stella got in touch straight away, asked me to give the keynote speech when she launched her campaign 'Sharkstoppers'. She was like a lifeboat coming through the waves."

 
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