News item

Projects in Norwich awarded with cash confiscated from loan sharks

picture of projects receiving award

Cash confiscated from convicted loan sharks has been awarded to eight projects in Norwich to benefit the community in a variety of different ways. The specialised Trading Standards, England Illegal Money Lending Team, working in partnership with Norfolk County Council Trading Standards, Norwich City Council and Cotman Housing provided the ill-gotten gains taken from illegal lenders to local communities.

The Team put forward £2000 worth of proceeds of crime money. Norfolk County Council Trading Standards, Norwich City Council and Cotman Housing collectively matched this with a further £2000.

 More than 1500 votes were cast online and in person, during an event held at the Forum on Friday (13th September), with each of the below projects receiving up to £500:

  • Wherry Housing will deliver three interactive workshops to help vulnerable social housing residents understand the impact of borrowing from loan sharks The workshops will explain how better budgeting and small changes can help to save money and reduce debt. 
  • Age UK Norfolk will hold a one-day information and advice event in partnership with Trading Standards to help older people to protect themselves against scams and unregulated borrowing. 
  • The Bridge Plus ‘Safe borrowing-Communities against loan sharks’ event will aim to bring together people from Black, Asian and Minority communities to raise awareness about illegal money borrowing. 
  • The Earlham Early Years Centre will run a family event to raise awareness of the money advice services available in the area. The event will have a focus on children and their fathers, as men may be more reluctant to speak about loan sharks.
  • Norwich Credit Union will launch an incentive scheme for people living in Mile Cross and Catton Grove wards. They will produce publicity posters and flyers to raise awareness of loan sharks and encourage people to join Norwich Credit Union and save their own ‘nest egg’ for emergencies. They’ll use the funding to put £20 into the accounts of new members who have saved on three separate occasions after three months.
  • Norwich MIND and partner agencies received funding for two projects and will run workshops before and after Christmas to develop realistic and creative budget plans that promote positive life style choices and help to avoid the distress and spiralling debts of borrowing from loan sharks. The workshops will help people deal with financial difficulties at this time of year.
  • West Norwich Credit Union will foster the habit of saving for children in two locals schools through their Young Savers section. By encouraging convenient collections, they will provide fun, incentivised and educational awareness on the wise use of money and the dangers of loan sharks.

David Collinson, Norfolk County Council’s Assistant Director of Public Protection, who presented the winners with their cheques at Friday’s event said: “Friday’s event was a great success. I’d like to thank everyone who voted and congratulate all of the entrants for participating.

“Every one of these winning projects will make a great contribution to helping local people avoid the pernicious reach of loan sharks and the damage they can cause to families and communities. I wish them all the best in putting their ideas into practice.”

Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said “Friday’s event was hugely positive with the extorted cash being put to excellent use. Thanks to everyone who attended or entered a bid- you have contributed to making a difference and tackling this crime in your community. Loan sharks are a scourge on society and cause harm and misery to their victims, but we are continuing to tackle them in Norwich and across the country. We would always urge victims of illegal money lenders to seek help by contacting us in confidence on 0300 555 2222”

Cotman Housing Association’s Managing Director, Vivien Farrow, said “We think it is entirely fitting that money recovered from convicted loan sharks is invested in local communities. We are proud to have come together with Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council to collectively match fund the proceeds of crime money put forward by the England Illegal Money Lending Team. We see raising awareness of loan sharks as an integral part of our financial inclusion strategy. We are passionate about supporting our customers to access alternative affordable credit and mainstream financial products. In doing so, we believe we can help eradicate illegal loan sharks, who are known to be prevalent on social housing estates."

Nationally the Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured 263 prosecutions leading to more than 167 years worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £40.3 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 22,000 victims.

To report a loan shark:

Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222 

Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003 

   E-mail reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk 

   Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject

 ***ENDS***

 

For more information contact Sarah-Jane Lynch, Illegal Money Lending Team communications officer, on 0121 693 1030 or 07881617119 or email sarah-jayne.lynch@birmingham.gov.uk. To speak to the National Trading Standards Board with a more general enquiry please contact the Trading Standards Institute press office on 0845 6089430 or pressoffice@tsi.org.uk.

 Notes to editors

The National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards. 

NTSB provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.

The Stop Loan Sharks Project consists of three Illegal money lending teams in England, Scotland and Wales.  The NTSB has responsibility for the England and Wales Illegal Money Lending Teams that are hosted by Birmingham City Council and Cardiff Council. There are separate arrangements in place in Scotland. 

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured 263 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to more than 167 years-worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £40.3 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 22,000 people.

The Illegal Money Lending Teams in England and Wales work in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities in their related countries. They consist of specialist officers who investigate and prosecute illegal money lending and related activity and LIAISE officers who support victims and raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders. 

 DATE: 18 September 2013