Funding Secured For Crackdown On Illegal Loan Sharks

A specialist PSNI officer is to be established in Northern Ireland to tackle illegal loan sharks.

The PSNI's paramilitary crime task force is to receiving funding for the position as part of a £5.5 million UK grant to combat illegal money lending.

There will also be a new education project to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks and to support vulnerable communities.

Announcing the funding, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley MP, said: "Loan sharks are a blight on society and prey on vulnerable people who struggle to make ends meet and their callous methods will not be tolerated. Northern Ireland is at the forefront of fighting back against their criminal activity with the Consumer Council educating potential victims on the dangers and the PSNI ensuring those responsible will be brought to justice.

"More money than ever before is being spent to fund the fight against loan sharks as this Government continues to build a United Kingdom fit for the future."

The education and awareness programme will be lead by the Consumer Council and aims to "prevent the most vulnerable from being bitten by loan sharks".
News Image
In total, £5.67 million of funding will be provided to Britain’s Illegal Money Lending Teams (IMLT) and bodies in Northern Ireland to tackle illegal lending - a 16% increase compared to the previous year. The money will be used to investigate and prosecute illegal lenders, and to support those who have been the victim of a loan shark.

John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury said: "These nasty lenders are nothing more than lowlife crooks taking hard-earned cash from the pockets of the most vulnerable. Over 300,000 people are in debt to illegal money lenders in the United Kingdom and they need to know that we’re on their side. That’s why we’re taking the fight to the loan sharks and spending more than ever to support their victims."

Welcoming the announcement, North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey, said: "All too often people have forced themselves into debt and have turned to drastic measures as a means of help. Loan sharks are not the answer and often lead to bigger problems. Education and knowledge of the help out there is key whenever debt is looming overhead.

"Awareness of the dangers is much needed and I am glad that funding is now being made available to help crack down on the activity of loan sharks. I understand the Consumer Council will take a lead on the educational programmes and have a wealth of knowledge in relation to helping those in debt.

"The message is - if you are in debt support is out there. Exhortation of vulnerable people in a difficult financial situation is wrong. Loan sharks are not the Robin Hood of society and their activity must be thwarted at every opportunity. This extra funding will go some way to tackling this scourge on society."


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

04 December 2008
Cross Border Pressure On Moneylenders
Credit card companies and moneylenders will soon be forced to adopt a new code of practice across the Irish Republic - while in Northern Ireland, consumers are being warned off using unlicensed moneylenders.
24 July 2003
Changes in loan repayments planned
People who repay loans early will get a fairer deal under changes outlined by the government this week. Around seven-in-10 personal loans are settled early, but people often have to pay big charges - charges which the government wants to scrap.
12 October 2017
Additional £40m Funding Announced For Health Service
The Department of Health has been given an additional £40 million of resource funding for this year. The money is subject to the passing of a budget act, however the Department of Finance said it hopes the move will help important short term respite. Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan welcomed the announcement.
13 October 2017
Decision To Cut Funding For GAA And IFA Coaches Reversed
The decision to cut funding for GAA and IFA coaches has been reversed. The Curriculum Sports Programme provides coaching to 40,000 pupils each year and reinstating the programme will save 50 jobs. SDLP MLA Justin McNulty welcomed the decision.
22 June 2018
Funding Secured For Pilot HIV Prevention Programme
Funding has been allocated for the rollout of a HIV prevention pilot programme across Northern Ireland. The project is set to receive £450,000 from the Department of Health's £100 million Transformation Fund.
04 July 2012
Recession Boosts Violent Loan Sharks
Illegal loan sharks have carried out physical attacks on people who owe them money in Northern Ireland. A report by the Organised Crime Task Force found that criminals are taking advantage of Northern Ireland's high levels of personal debt to target people on benefits, with drug problems, or running small businesses.
28 November 2016
RMS To Create Over 300 New Jobs
RMS Group Services has announced it is to create over 300 jobs over the next five years following a £1.25million investment from the Growth Loan Fund. One hundred of the new jobs will be located in Belfast with the remainder based across its Slough and Dublin operations.
29 August 2003
Strangford Lough marked as basking shark 'hotspot'
A 15-year survey into activity in and around UK waters by one of the world's largest sharks has revealed that Strangford Lough is a regular visiting place for this underwater giant.
11 September 2014
NI People Struggle More Financially Than The Rest Of The UK
People in Northern Ireland are struggling financially more than people in the rest of the UK, according to new figures released by a debt charity. In the first six months of 2014, StepChange helped 1,981 people in Northern Ireland, who were facing average unsecured debt levels of £18,360.
24 April 2018
Govt Should Release Legacy Funding Immediately - SF
The government should release legacy funding immediately, Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon has said. Ms Dillion made the call following a ruling by the coroner into the death of Marian Brown in June 1972, stating that it is "further indication that the British government should implement the legacy mechanisms agreed at Stormont House".
12 April 2018
SDLP Welcome Housing Shortage Funding
SDLP Social Justice Spokesperson, Nichola Mallon MLA, has welcomed an agreement made between Radius Housing and Barclays that will see £50 million of funding used to tackle housing shortages in areas of high demand.
11 April 2018
Further Arts Cuts In Latest Funding Allocation
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) has announced annual funding of £13,109,178 for 100 key arts organisations from its exchequer and National Lottery resources. Government funds of £8,573,382 maintain the core costs of 100 arts organisations while £4,535,796 of National Lottery funding supports their programming costs.
23 March 2018
NIAO To Investigate Concerns Over Funding For Community Projects
The Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) has agreed to investigate concerns over a controversial fund for community projects. The Alliance party has raised concerns over the lack of openness and transparency surrounding the Local Investment Fund (LIF).
08 March 2018
Former First Minister Was Wrong To Block Funding For Legacy Inquests
A judge has ruled that the former First Minister's decision to block funding for a plan for legacy inquests was unlawful and flawed. A High Court judge said Arlene Foster's decision, that £150 million allocated as part of the Stormont House Agreement should await the outcome of an overall package dealing with all legacy issues, was wrong.
23 February 2018
DUP 'Unaware' Of Funding For Legacy Requests
Arlene Foster has claimed "no one in the DUP was aware" of funding for legacy requests. The DUP leader said it would be "astonishing" if the government granted funding. The statement came after DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson told The View programme he was "unaware" of an alleged deal to release money for Troubles legacy inquests.