Thursday 17 October 2019

Illegal moneylending a growing problem in Sligo, says taskforce


Paul Deering

Illegal moneylending is a growing problem in Sligo and county according to a community taskforce group.

It says some children are going hungry in order that repayments are made. People, they say, are turning to illegal moneylending as a quick fix.

“However the group wish to highlight that although it may seem like the fastest solution, it is something that once you are in, you can never get out of. The debt will never be paid as these illegal moneylenders never tell you how much you owe, so once in it can be for life.,” said a spokesperson for Community Safety Taskforce in Sligo.

The group, which is made up of state, community and voluntary groups in the county dedicated to the improvement of community safety in Sligo, said more people than ever are finding themselves in debt to illegal moneylenders, a debt they can never get out of.

The Community Taskforce said the problem of illegal moneylenders and high cost doorstep lenders is now being passed down from generation to generation and now is the time to stop this once and for all.

The main message the group wish to convey is that at the moment some children are going without food in order to pay back moneylenders, and it’s time for people to realise there is another way.

“Moneylenders should be avoided at all costs and there are many agencies who can and will offer advice and help to those who find themselves in financial trouble. “Knock on their doors, instead of having moneylenders knock on yours,” said the spokesperson.

The Community Taskforce is urging people not to turn to doorstep or illegal Moneylenders when they are in need. Even some licensed legal moneylenders can charge up to and over 200% interest.

They are advising people instead to turn to organisations such as the Credit Union. The Personal Microcredit Scheme provides small Credit Union loans at low interest rates. The loans are available to people getting a social welfare payment who may have difficulty getting credit from other sources.

The scheme aims to reduce dependence on Moneylenders with very high interest rates. If someone was to borrow €500 from a legal moneylender over 26 weeks, the person would be paying back €500 plus another €150.

The same loan from the Credit Union would see the person paying back €500 plus €13.71. An illegal Moneylender would be much, much more.

The group is advising people that there are many other routes when you are in need of money instead of moneylenders. In Sligo, you can contact Sligo Credit Union, MABS, St Vincent DePaul, the Citizens Information Centre, Sligo Social Services, Focus Ireland, the Northwest Simon Community, your Community Welfare Officer, the Legal Aid Board and the banks for advice and help.

Illegal moneylending can also be reported to Sligo Gardaí in confidence.

It should be noted that many schools throughout the county have implemented the School Books Rental Scheme which has proved hugely successful, but more schools are needed to come on board with this.

It would also be helpful it schools could look at ways of staggering required costs to make it easier for people to pay.

However, the Community Safety Taskforce said it is only one group, and what is needed is for all likeminded groups to unite to lobby the Government for more restrictive legislation in relation to the extortionate rates of interest charged by licensed legal Moneylenders.

Sligo Champion