UK Politics

Miliband calls for payday loan TV ads to children to be banned

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Media captionEd Miliband: ''I don't want payday lenders...targeting children in this country''

Adverts for payday loans should be banned during children's TV programmes, Labour leader Ed Miliband has said.

Writing in the Sun on Sunday newspaper, Mr Miliband criticised payday lenders who "target" children through advertising.

He said a Labour government would urge the advertising watchdog to introduce a ban. If that did not work, Labour would use legislation, Mr Miliband said.

His comments come in a week which saw payday lenders quizzed by MPs.

Mr Miliband told the BBC payday lenders were spending hundreds of thousands of pounds advertising during children's TV programmes.

'Bad for families'

"As a father of two young boys, I know how influenced they can be by what they see and I don't want payday lenders taking advantage of the cost of living crisis and targeting children in this country," he said.

"I think it's wrong, it's not what should be happening and that's why a Labour government would stop them advertising during children's TV, because it's bad for young people, it's bad for families and it's bad for communities."

Mr Miliband said it was "just wrong" that payday lenders were "putting pressure on our kids to pester their parents".

He compared advertising by payday lenders to that of junk food and gambling, which are both banned during TV programmes aimed at children.

He added: "That's why we'll be asking the Advertising Standards Authority to act on irresponsible advertising that's targeting young children by payday lenders and if they don't sort it out, we will through legislation."

'Pain and misery'

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the government was already cracking down on irresponsible payday lenders to protect consumers.

She said two "misleading" payday loan adverts had been banned in the last six months.

"New rules will also force payday loan adverts to include risk warnings and information about where the public can access free and confidential debt advice," she added.

Mr Miliband's stance was supported by the creator of the website, Martin Lewis.

Mr Lewis said a survey of parents conducted by suggested that 30% of children under 10 are repeating advertising slogans from payday loans companies.

Image caption Financial journalist Martin Lewis said payday loans caused people "pain and misery"

"We've been calling for a ban on payday loans on children's TV," he said.

"The risk is they effectively groom a new generation of children, normalising, legitimising and mainstreaming this dangerous type of niche borrowing."

He added: "Marketing is at the core of these loans, which cause many people pain and misery.

"They're slick, fast, efficient technological plays, the crack cocaine of lending that have created a market that didn't really exist five years ago - and sadly our lack of regulation means they thrive here while other countries have far more effective controls."

In a speech earlier this week, Mr Miliband criticised what he called Britain's "Wonga economy", saying that the rise of payday lenders symbolised the squeeze on living standards facing millions of families.

That came on the same day that representatives from the payday lending firms Wonga, QuickQuid and Mr Lender were questioned MPs on the Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee.

The companies defended their business practices, saying they aim to lend to people who can pay them back.

Wonga's chief operating officer Niall Wass told BBC's Newsnight its business practices have been misrepresented and the vast majority of its customers are happy.