When is something going to be done about payday loan companies?
Following the tragic death of Kane Sparham-Price after Wonga cleared out his bank account, there have been a plethora of posts on social media about the issue. As was to be expected, the views of the multitude of posters has been wide and varied. Some people have been criticising the loan company for what it did, others have been asking what would you expect from someone with admitted mental health difficulties, another group have been talking about ‘Benefits Street’ and people living above their means and then there’s the group who have been going on about the everlasting rise of consumerism in this country. As far as I am concerned, whatever the reason for Kane’s death, something needs to be done.
Just out of interest I went and took a look at Wonga’s website and, as I suspected, it’s just too damn easy to get a loan. I would have had no problem borrowing more than I should, even though I am a severely disabled person, on benefits, who is unlikely ever to be able to leave my bed, let alone leave the house to go to work. Even so I would have had no difficulty in applying for a loan and, according to the website, receiving the money into my account within minutes. No checks on my suitability, no mention of guarantors, no questions about whether or not I would stand any chance of being able to pay back the loan. Just ‘give us your details, how much do you want, here you are’.
Something needs to be done to ensure that far more rigorous checks are made on people’s ability to pay a loan back within a reasonable timescale. Late repayments are part of the problem. The interest rates on loans are crippling. People are having to pay back enormous amounts on top of the amount of the original loan just for being a few days late. All it takes is for some money that someone was going to use to make a repayment turning up a couple of days after it was expected for things to spiral out of control. And once things start to go downhill they, more often than not, continue to slide.
Not only that, but someone needs to do a study into why people are having to resort to taking out such loans in the first place. What is the reason for so many people to be taking such massive risks with their finances? Why are people burdening themselves with impossible repayment schedules? Why do people need to do this?
As far as I am concerned the Government is largely to blame. Most of the people using payday loan companies aren’t borrowing to buy something big or extravagant like a new car or an enormous TV or a holiday somewhere sun-drenched, they are borrowing to live. They are borrowing so they have enough money to pay the rent, pay the electricity bill, heat their homes and buy food for themselves and their families. And the Government needs take it’s head out of the sand and address this. There needs to be some sort of safety net. Something to stop us tumbling headlong back to the days of Poor Laws and workhouses. Until welfare payments are aid at a level that is, at least, sufficient to enable people to actually live, this sort of tragedy will become more and more common. Until payday loan companies are properly regulated people will go on borrowing more than they can afford without anyone saying no. Until we all learn that it’s perfectly possible to be happy with our lives without having to own the latest gizmo that Mr Jones down the street bought last week consumerism will continue to rise.
Someone needs to say no more. Someone needs to actually take a good, hard look at what is happening, why it is happening and say no more.
There will always be some rich people who have much more money than other, poorer people and there will always be very poor people who have little or nothing. Rich people will always want to have the so called luxuries of life and poorer people will always want to have some of that luxury too. We are never going to get to a point where everyone can have everything they want. What we want and what we need are two different things. The place we have to get to is the place where everyone has everything they actually need. We need to learn to shake our heads sadly over the things we want but can’t afford whilst ensuring that everyone is able to get the things they need without having to borrow to do so.
What happened to Kane was tragic and wrong but, until we start learning that we can’t all have everything we want, we must, at least, make sure that no-one is left with nothing at all and no-one is forced to take out a loan, with an impossible rate of interest, just to stay alive. The Government must start looking at the people of this country, who have to claim welfare benefits to survive, as human beings, with needs, rather than scroungers.and workshy parasites whose only desire is to swindle the nation. The Government must make sure that we are all able at least live. The Government must stop making cut after cut whilst chanting the austerity mantra. We all recognise that we have a national deficit in this country that needs to be paid off but it needs to be paid off fairly by rich and poor alike. We all need to do our bit. At present it feels as if poorer people, those in receipt of welfare benefits, are making all the sacrifices through cuts to those benefits whilst our richer neighbours, the ones with inherited wealth or clever accountants, are laughing as they sip their cocktails round their pool. If every single one of us does our bit then maybe there will be no more Kanes.
Let that be his legacy. Let’s make it so the payday loan companies claim no further victims because no-one needs them any more. Let’s make sure we all have enough money to live. Let’s make it stop.