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Simon Read: Local communities can help beat payday lenders

The battle to keep vulnerable people out of the clutches of unscrupulous payday lenders is being fought by local communities.

Last month in the North-east, for instance, local groups – including Citizens Advice – held a Fair Credit "listening event" in Newcastle.

Leading the day was the financial inclusion charity Fincan, chaired by Alison Baxter.

"We wanted to hear the views of people who may have been affected by high-cost credit," she says.

"Not many of us involved in the day have been in the position where the only way we could pay our mortgage that month was to take out a loan which would cost almost half as much again to pay back. The event allowed us to gather interesting stories from those who used payday lending firms."

Meanwhile in Kilburn, north London, local community leaders have taken on the challenge to tackle the menace of expensive payday lenders. Last week they met council chiefs to try to improve access to fair credit in the area and give vulnerable people an affordable alternative to payday lenders, chiefly through credit unions.

The community or work-based financial institutions offer low-cost loans to their members and can help ensure people don't fall into the loan trap set by unscrupulous payday lenders.

It is through partnerships with caring communities and councils that we can help people to avoid falling into desperate straits by borrowing money at rates they simply can't afford.