Council urged to ban payday loan website access

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Northumberland County Council is looking at blocking access to payday loan websites from computers in local authority-run buildings in a bid to help people in debt.

Councillors have been urged to support a motion which would see blocks placed on computers to prevent users accessing the online sites of short-term loan firms.

The motion, which was due to be discussed at a council meeting in County Hall on Wednesday, was put forward by Labour member for Cramlington Eastfield, Laura Pidcock, who is vice-chairman of the south east area committee.

Her motion states: “The rising cost of living and falling income is causing genuine problems for people with their finances. Among those who borrow from high cost credit companies on average borrow around £326 per month.

“The interest paid on this money is punishing; many are unable to make the repayments.

“This council resolves to block access to payday loan websites through the public PCs in libraries and other council buildings across Northumberland and from its employees’ computers unless and until the industry, including its advertising practices, is effectively controlled.

“This council pledges to investigate the use of planning law to regulate the growth and spread of payday loan companies and pay weekly furniture providers who force maintenance and insurance.

“This action should be taken to enable the council to protect people from taking out high interest loans from companies that fail to check that they can repay the loan, often leading to them becoming trapped in a spiral of debt.”

Some councils, including Newcastle City Council, have already banned access to the payday loan websites from council computer terminals.

Councillors were expected to make an agreement on the proposal at this week’s meeting.