If we were to judge the wellbeing of the nation by the changing skyline of the City of London or the number of designer handbags then we would be on the verge entering a new golden age. However this only tells one side of the story, the other is told by widespread political apathy, increasing household debts and the ever-growing queues at food banks and pay day loan companies.
Apart from maybe the big six energy companies, I don't know any type of business which gets more bad press than payday loan companies. Anyone you speak to - in the pub, on the school run or in the office - has an extremely negative view of them, yet as much as £1.8 billion is being lent a year by payday loan companies and some (yes you Wonga!) have interest rates as high as 5,853% APR. Disgraceful!
What could be more outrageous than the undemocratic trebling of tuition fees, or the fundamentally anti-working class policy of scrapping EMA, denying thousands of poorer students their chance at further and higher education? After the attacks on FEs, raising fees for adult learners and axing half a million places, where could the coalition sink to next?
Low income families are penalised by the poverty penalty that forces them to pay more for essential goods and services, because they are so often excluded from mainstream credit. This creates a cycle of debt and poverty, making it much harder for people to run a home, or in extreme circumstances, leaves them unable to afford the absolute basics such as beds and fridges. Unsurprisingly, the poorest and most vulnerable families are most likely to suffer from living in what are effectively "broken houses".
Payday Loans have become a hot topic and a regular feature in the British press week in, week out. The market has grown significantly and although the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have no official figures on exactly how much the sector is worth it estimated it at around £900 million in 2008 with Consumer Focus estimating the total value of loans made in 2009 at £1.2 billion.
The current 'see it, buy it' credit card culture has meant that for many people financial goals no longer exist. However, many major financial commitments such as buying a property, saving for retirement or investing in your business can't be paid for by credit card and take real planning and dedication to save for.