James Moore: Hammer due to fall on an unpleasant trade

Outlook It seems the hammer is about to fall on the payday lending industry.

The Office of Fair Trading has identified a disturbing catalogue of bad practice which suggests that the industry is indeed populated by people who amount to little more than legalised loan sharks. They might not threaten to break your legs if you can't pay up, but what they'll throw at you is still pretty gruesome.

What the OFT can't do is address the conditions that have allowed these unpleasant operations to flourish. It worries that some people are using them for more than just one-off emergencies, unexpected bills, and the like. They are using them for the basics, such as paying rent.

The watchdog cites reports from the likes of Which? and ComRes which draw attention to this, and concludes: "Such reports reports raise wider social issues that are outside the remit of the OFT."

Almost as disturbing as the disgraceful practices the OFT has cast a light on is the fact that no-one who's remit these issues may be within appears to be paying them much attention.

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