ENP Newswire - 11 August 2014
Release date- 08082014 - The Scottish Government has announced tighter regulations and stricter planning procedures to help limit the numbers of new payday lenders on Scotland's high streets.
The measures which are designed to minimise the presence of payday lenders in communities are set out in a new 12 point Scottish Government action plan launched by Local Government Minister Derek Mackay MSP today (8 August).
The plan is a result of Scotland's first Payday Lending Summit earlier this year and based on feedback from local authorities, advice services, welfare organisations and credit union representatives who attended.
Launching the plan on a visit to the Glasgow Central Citizens Advice Bureau, Mr Mackay said: 'This action plan reinforces our commitment to addressing the problems associated with payday lending and sets out a number of actions that we will undertake across a range of policy areas.
'Through legislation we will remove some of the exemptions from planning control on premises that sell pay day loans. This will allow planning authorities to implement policies addressing future clustering and over-provision of such activities.
'We're making conditions tougher for payday lenders by excluding them from small business bonus schemes and working with the Financial Conduct Authority to tighten up regulations.'
The Scottish Parliament passed the Bankruptcy and Debt Advice (Scotland) Bill with cross-party support in March of this year. The Bill included the creation of a Financial Health Service (FHS), and the new Action Plan includes a commitment to 'explore how to further promote credit unions as potential alternative lenders as a key part of the FHS.'
Mr Mackay continued: 'We're taking steps to tackle the issue of problem debt through legislation such as the Bankruptcy and Debt Advice (Scotland) Act, but raising awareness of alternative ways of accessing credit is key. By showing people payday lenders are not the only option we can lessen the demand for the service.
'Our new Financial Health Service website will bring together different strands and sources of information and advice, so that anybody with a concern or an issue to do with debt or borrowing can find, in one place, the help and assistance that they need.'
ABCUL Scotland Policy Manager Frank McKillop, who spoke at the Payday Lending Summit in April, welcomed the publication of the Action Plan:
'The Scottish Government is right to recognise that many payday lenders have not been acting in the interests of consumers, and when their activity has such scope to cause real financial distress to people, they should not be treated the same as any other business.
'We particularly welcome the Scottish Government's continued support for the growth of credit unions as part of a wider effort to increase saving and borrowing options and improve the financial capability of people across Scotland.'