Access to pay day loan websites on computers in libraries in Northamptonshire has been blocked by the local authority in an attempt to protect county residents.
The Citizens Advice Bureau service nationally has been campaigning to bring in tighter regulation of the sector amidst fears that coming benefit changes could mean that there is the danger that people will turn to pay day lenders in increasing numbers.
Library staff are instead referring customers to providers of independent advice and to credit unions.
Martin Lord, Chief Executive of Central and East Northamptonshire Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “We’ve been aware for a number of years of the pernicious and growing problem of pay day loans. They provide a short term fix, but in the long term, our experience has been that taking out a pay day loan almost always makes things worse.
“These companies operate a business model which depends to some extent on advertising their products on the internet , and with interest rates as high as 5000 per cent we are obviously keen for a very clear message to be sent out to consumers about the dangers of these loans. This is a very welcome move by the libraries service”.
The move was prompted by Central and East Northamptonshire Citizens Advice Bureau’s recent acquisition of flagship Consumer Empowerment Partnership lead status, which enables it to work to educate consumers and improve enforcement where traders break the law. It will work with Trading Standards departments around the region to make these improvements.
Councillor Heather Smith, county council deputy leader and cabinet member for customer services said: “These are tough times for many people and although a pay day loan might seem like a good solution, their extremely high interest rates mean it is often the beginning of a huge debt that will only cause more stress and financial problems in the long run.
“It makes good sense for the library service to do what it can to protect people and discourage them from accessing these websites.”
Information and support is available through the Citizens Advice Bureau, 0844 855 2122, and the Northampton Credit Union, Northampton 250016. Further information can also be found on www.adviceguide.org.uk and the Citizens Advice Bureau Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=kvkBmeNRyP0