Community heroes who want to bring an end to the misery caused by unscrupulous loan sharks are being encouraged to bid for cash as part of a campaign organised by the England Illegal Money Lending Team in partnership with Wigan Council.
The ‘Your Choice’ scheme will give residents a say in how money taken from loan sharks is spent to improve their community. The England Illegal Money Lending Team, which investigates and prosecutes loan sharks, has put forward £2,000 worth of 'proceeds of crime money' to fund as many projects as possible.
Loan sharks often trap borrowers into spiralling debt through exorbitant rates of interest and arbitrary extra charges. When people are unable to pay many will resort to bully tactics such as intimidation, threats or violence.
The scheme aims to see the money these loan sharks made, used wisely, to benefit key areas.
Local residents, charities, community and voluntary groups and schools based in the Scholes and Ince areas of Wigan are welcome to apply for the cash, to spend on any worthwhile community project which will let people know:
- about the dangers of loan sharks (illegal money lenders)
- where to find out about legal, affordable credit
- how to budget and manage their money
- what to do if they are having money/debt problems
Applicants have until Friday 15th February to submit their bids.
Those who meet the above criteria will then be invited to showcase their projects to local community members at an event at Sunshine House Community Centre in Scholes on Thursday 7th March. An independent panel of community representatives will then judge the entries, with the winning projects being awarded the cash on the day.
Wigan Council’s Trading Standards Manager, Julie Middlehurst, says,
“We are keen to give this money to the communities of Scholes and Ince so they can use it to help prevent their neighbours becoming victims of Loan Sharks. The money will benefit the winning groups, and the projects will hopefully inform the community where they can get help to manage their finances, access free debt advice and how to report Loan Sharks."
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, adds:
“Illegal money lenders are a scourge on our communities, and can have a hugely detrimental impact on the lives of their victims. Through schemes such as this, we are able to use this money for something positive and help to prevent these criminals from operating in the future. We would always urge victims of illegal money lenders to seek help by contacting us in confidence on 0300 555 2222”
To ensure that a number of projects can be funded, groups can apply for up to a maximum of £500 per project idea.
If you would like a chat about the award or find out how to apply contact Wigan Council Trading Standards on 01942 827476 or email email@example.com
To report a loan shark:
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured 220 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to almost 150 years-worth of custodial sentences. They have written off almost £40 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 19,000 victims.