Debt agencies are set to come together to take part in a live debate on ‘fair credit’ tackling the issue of payday loans.
Parliamentary Labour candidate Patrick Hall has organised the meeting on Friday, March 28, to help build a local picture of the national problem.
Members of the public affected by debt are invited to come along and join in the live debate.
Services manager at the Bedford Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) Dean Crofts will be talking at the debate about what problems the industry has been facing in the last couple of years, and the CAB’s Payday Watch campaign it has been running.
Dean said: “In term of the issues that our clients are bringing in, debt is our number one issue, and the biggest issue within that is loans that people can’t repay.
“Over the last couple of years we have seen an increase in payday loans. It was the High Street bank loans we were seeing, but since the crash in 2008/09 we are seeing more and more people take out these short-term loans and they just can’t pay them back.”
The CAB has been campaigning on this issue nationally and as of April a new regulation body has been set up to monitor payday loan companies, such as Wonga.
But it is still campaigning the Government to enforce a levy charge for the companies to pay.
Dean added: “The problem is with these companies is that they are so easily accessible. You can do it online or even on your phone.
“You can ask for £200, tell him how much you earn and the money will be with you in 15 minutes. There has been no regulation and this is how the problem has got worse.”
Other agencies set to attend the meeting are Bedford Credit Union, Money Advice, Family Groups, Salvation Army, Bedfordshire Advice Forum, and Christians Against Poverty.
Money Advice, based at St Andrew’s Church, Goldington, is currently helping 38 people, who between them owe a total of £493,663.
Mr Hall, who has organised the meeting, said: “This is a national issue of payday loan companies issuing loans at high interest rates, so when people are unable to pay them back they just spiral into more debt.
“So I thought this is something in Bedford we could focus on.”
It is taking place at St Peter De Merton Church Chapter House on De Parys Avenue, Bedford, from 7pm.