Money in Merseyside
Local action on debt and financial inclusion
There are 6 Big Local areas in Merseyside, and they’ve been meeting together regularly for over a year. Some of the areas have held an Illegal Money Lending Week and others have worked with local partners to support money education and community enterprise.
Tackling loan sharks: illegal money lending week
The Merseyside areas invited the national Illegal Money Lending Team (LIASE) to one of their meetings and learnt about the support that LIASE was able to provide to help communities to tackle illegal money lending and improve financial inclusion.
Using LIASE support, Beechwood, Ballantyne & Bidston Village, Windmill Hill and L30s Million Big Locals held an ‘Illegal Money Lending Week’ to encourage local people to turn away from loan sharks and report the crime if they have been a victim.
School assemblies gave children an understanding of the dangers of loan sharks so they could share what they have learnt with their families and avoid borrowing from loan sharks in later life. A competition for young people to design anti-loan shark posters helped raise awareness. LIASE provided Glenda the Lender (pictured below) to help spread the word!
There are an estimated 310,000 households across the UK who have borrowed from loan sharks. These criminals may appear friendly at first but quickly trap their borrowers in a spiral of debt. Few offer paperwork so borrowers are often in the dark as to how much they are repaying, many will take items as security and some will resort to extreme methods including violence, threats and intimidation to enforce repayment.
Kerry Pavey of L30s Million Big Local said:
“After the Illegal Money Lending Week, we’ve got more awareness in the local area on how to report loan sharks. We’ve spread knowledge of what loan sharks do and how it is linked to organised crime.
I’d advise other Big Local areas who would like to do something similar to link in to the local authority and get in touch with the England Illegal Money Lending Team to find out what is already happening in your area. There’s no point doing something separate - it’s better use of your money and better impact if you work with partners or other Big Local areas.
We also linked to what Sefton council were doing - they were about to launch an illegal money lending charter, getting partners in Sefton to sign up to act against loan sharks- including police, councillors, housing providers, fire and crime commissioner’s office. We were able to have the launch of the charter within the L30s Big Local assemblies (pictured below)- it was an opportunity to get more publicity.”
Karl Rooney of Beechwood, Ballantyne & Bidston Village Big Local said:
“The week of action was very successful here –we had real results and referrals to the Illegal Money Lending Team during the campaign.
During the week, as well distributing literature and running assemblies and the competition we used social media: We had a hashtag for the week: #Snapback and encouraged everyone to like the England Illegal Money Lending Team on Facebook.”
Money education and supporting community enterprise
In nearby Clubmoor, MyClubmoor Big Local consulted their community and found that a priority was tackling underlying issues behind debt: people’s lack of confidence or low levels of awareness about good money management.
MyClubmoor invested £1,000 for St Andrew’s Community Network, a trusted local charity, to develop and deliver a 6-week accredited money education course for local residents. The course is challenging and involves a ‘life audit’.
Kevin Peacock, chair of MyClubmoor, said:
“The beauty of Big Local is that it takes people where they are at and supports them with a long term programme. Our Big Local plan can be orientated to root causes of debt.
So much of what goes on is short term to fix the problem, but debt is often a symptom of many things going on in people’s lives. We need long term solutions that would allow some of those things to emerge through a range of activities. It’s not a case of how do we guarantee rental payments for two years- it’s how do we change someone’s life for 10 years.”
MyClubmoor has also forged a relationship with the local credit union to offer loans to support local enterprise, and have just recommended their first business loan through them. They are working with Liverpool Charity and Voluntary Services and in partnership with them have funded and approved 8 grants so far for community enterprise projects.
They’ve also been doing much more to enable residents to grow new enterprises, help people into employment and keep money local, as Big Local ambassador Lianne McGinnes explained in this article published in a special Liverpool edition of New Start magazine.