Leeds & West Yorkshire

Six Yorkshire councils block 'predator' payday lender websites

Six councils across Yorkshire are blocking access to "predatory" payday lender websites from their computers.

The councils running Bradford, Leeds, Calderdale, Kirklees, Wakefield and the City of York are joining in the action.

Anyone using a council terminal who tries to access a payday lender will be redirected to an information page.

The Consumer Finance Association, which represents many payday lenders, said it feared people would be prevented from accessing responsible credit providers.

The Association of West Yorkshire Councils said many loan applicants faced "irresponsible lending".

'Serious' debt

Coun Keith Wakefield, the leader of Leeds City Council and chairman of the Association of West Yorkshire Authorities, said: "We are seeing more and more evidence of people finding themselves with serious debt problems after being enticed into taking out loans from payday lenders.

"A recent survey of 113 lenders by the Citizen's Advice Bureau found nine out of ten applicants were not asked to provide proof that they could afford the loan.

"It can be no surprise that this sort of irresponsible lending leaves many people facing serious hardship."

In a statement, a spokesman for the six councils said: "Although a few other councils across the country have also taken this step, [our] announcement represents the single biggest initiative in the country in the campaign against what are described as predatory lenders."

In June, Leeds City Council said that more than 2,400 council tenants had fallen behind on their rent in the city since changes to housing benefit came into effect.

Impact evidence

The city council said it needed a new anti-poverty strategy to deal with the effects of welfare reform.

It also proposed a campaign to promote credit unions and deter people from using payday or doorstep lenders.

In response, Russell Hamblin-Boone, Chief Executive of the Consumer Finance Association said: "Local Councils are clearly entitled to take any action they deem necessary and we would support any initiatives that drive out irresponsible lenders.

"However, we would be concerned if, without evidence of its impact, this action prevented people in Yorkshire having access to responsible credit providers.

"Responsible lenders explain the costs up front in pounds in pence; use credit reference agencies to check your details and will not lend to you if they think it will make your financial situation worse."

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