The work being done in Glasgow by the city`s council puts the government, the opposition and, indeed, the rest of the country`s local councils, to shame. (Credit unions in Glasgow push out paydaylenders as city tackles personal debt crisis,22/09/13) The work being done to "tackle the burgeoning instant loan industry" in Glasgow raises some obvious questions: why hasn`t the downright evil activities of "Wonga and its lookalikes" been challenged by our elected representatives in Westminster, people we have charged with the protection of the most vulnerable in our society? Why isn`t it a priority for Labour, especially as strong action against these charlatans can only result in greater electoral support, as all decent folk will agree that the obscenely high profits generated by the payday lenders are morally abhorrent, cashing in, as these so-called businesses do, on the poverty and suffering of the weakest in society?
An obvious start would be to ban these companies from advertising on television and in newspapers, and that would include TV companies being refused permission to broadcast any sport involving the promotion of payday lending, and then look to promising legislation to deal with their dubious practices. Should it be legal to charge interest often in excess of 5000% APR,or to double, treble etc. rates when payments are missed? Could it not be possible to limit by law the interest rates charged by money-lenders, something like the basic rate plus x percent? Couldn`t business rates for such companies, and why not include betting-shops here, be four or five times higher than for decent firms?
Doesn`t the whole issue illustrate the need for Labour to be promising not just a business bank, but a nationalised one, which can have branches devoted to helping local companies in need of loans, and individuals in need of short-term help? The unions are right, of course, to demand better pay, and there is certainly an urgent need to raise the minimum wage up to the levels at least of the "living wage", but a priority,too, is to get rid of these parasites!