First Minister pledges action against payday lenders

Angus Robertson – to visit Forres Credit Union

Moray’s SNP politicians are welcoming an announcement from First Minister Alex Salmond that payday lenders would be subjected to tougher regulation in an independent Scotland.

Mr Salmond proposed that short-term interest be capped – as they are in many countries in Europe, Japan, Canada and some US states.

He also said regulation of advertising and restrictions should be placed on the ‘rolling over’ of loans, which sees those unable to pay off the initial debt saddled with a bigger loan that is more difficult to clear.

Both Angus Robertson MP and Richard Lochhead MSP have said that concerns over the payday loans market have featured highly in communications from constituents in Moray.

Mr Robertson will today visit the Forres Area Credit Union on the town’s High Street, where he will meet local Credit Union representatives and highlight their benefits as an alternative to the high interest rates in payday lending.

The Moray MP said: “Credit Unions offer a range of services from savings to loans for its members. Members can access loans at a much more affordable rate than commercial lenders.

“There is growing concern over the rates which controversial pay day loan companies charge. Credit Unions can offer a more local and affordable alternative while encouraging saving to reduce reliance on credit in the future.

“Forres Area Credit Union also works with schools to encourage saving and good money management from a young age.”

Mr Robertson’s Holyrood colleague, Richard Lochhead MSP, added: “It has been disappointing that the Westminster government have powers over financial regulation and payday loans but continue to refuse to take any action.”

Commenting on Mr Salmond’s announcement at the weekend SNP MP Mike Weir said: “The Scottish Government is doing all it can to mitigate the effects of Westminster austerity – through policies such as the Social Wage which sees Council Tax remaining frozen, free prescriptions maintained, concessionary bus travel supported and a Living Wage of £7.45 for workers covered by Scottish Government pay policy.

“The £33m Scottish Welfare Fund has also been established for families facing hardship as a result of welfare cuts.

“Today’s pledge from the First Minister shows that the SNP is committed to taking action in other areas in which we currently don’t have the powers to act.

“Next year, we face a choice of two futures. With a Yes vote, we can stop the scandal of 50,000 children in Scotland being pushed into poverty by 2020 and gain the powers to build a more fairer society.

“The only certainty of a No vote is more of the same austerity and hardship pushed onto us by Westminster.”