Geoff Knott
Successful petition to ban payday loans ads

On Wednesday evening, 27 November 2013, Tower Hamlets Council took a decision to ban payday loan adverts on public billboards and bus shelters and/or setting up business in local authority property. This followed a petition organised and led by local church members to force a debate on the subject.

Albeit only having banned payday loan adverts from the borough, the Council has promised to “limit the proliferation and impact of high street credit outlets in the borough”

On 14 February 2014, The University of East London (UEL) along with The East London Communities Organisation (TELCO), which includes many churches, delivered a petition signed by 1000 local residents and community members to Newham Council to ban all pay day loan advertising in the borough. Last year researchers at UEL found that 1 in 10 of its students had had recourse to payday loans during their studies and the university took the unprecedented step of banning advertising from payday lenders on the campus.

Earlier in 2013, Plymouth City Council made the decision to ban advertising; Bristol, Leeds and Newcastle City Councils are considering the matter as well. Several councils have banned access to payday lender sites from their computers, e.g. in libraries and offices.

Southwark Council is seeking to go further. It has already banned new betting shops, payday loans firms and pawnbrokers from opening in its Borough. It is believed they are the first local authority to tighten planning rules in this way. It also wants to hit bookmakers, pawn shops and payday lenders with a levy of 10 per cent of their turnover to drive them out of the borough and is asking the Government for powers to do this. Two of Southwark Council’s billboard advertising contractors have agreed not to display payday loan adverts.

It would seem that local councils are very open to consider action on these types of businesses, which means this could be a great opportunity for petitioning your local council to take action.

You may find the wording below helpful:

“We are concerned about the growth of payday lending and the way these loans trap people in spirals of unmanageable debt. We recognise that authorities are working for better regulation of the payday lending sector, including a cap on the total cost of credit. Until such regulation is in place we are calling on all relevant bodies to do what they can to protect people from usurious lending.

“We know that these companies seek to use public advertising to target people locally who are struggling to make ends meet. We therefore call on the Council to follow the example of Plymouth Council and Tower Hamlets Council and work with any relevant partners to ban payday loan advertising wherever possible and as soon as possible in public spaces such as billboards and bus shelters, as well as ensuring that payday loan adverts are banned from all public computers and any Council publications. In addition, we ask that no betting shops, payday loans firms and pawnbrokers be permitted to rent Council property.”

We hope you can gather many signatures from the community to support such a request.