Local groups in Newcastle are encouraged to bid for cash, which has been confiscated from illegal money lenders, as part of an initiative organised by the England Illegal Money Lending Team in partnership with Newcastle City Council Trading Standards.
The ‘Your Choice’ scheme will give residents a say in how money taken from loan sharks is spent to improve their community. The specialist team who investigate and prosecute loan sharks have put forward proceeds of crime money to fund the winning projects.
Loan sharks often trap borrowers into spiralling debt through exorbitant rates of interest and arbitrary extra charges. When people were unable to pay many will resort to bully tactics such as intimidation, threats or violence.
The scheme aims to see the money these loan sharks made, used wisely, to benefit key areas.
Deputy leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Joyce McCarty, said:
“Loan sharks are devious, manipulative people who prey on the vulnerable. They can make huge profits by charging people exorbitant rates of interest so it’s only fitting that their ill-gotten gains are used against them.
“If anyone is involved in a project that raises awareness of loan sharks; promotes credit unions and proper financial planning for victims then we want to hear from them. They could receive up to £1,250 for their project which could also be used fight loan shark crime. It’s a great idea.”
Local residents, charities, community and voluntary groups, schools and statutory agencies benefiting those that live in Newcastle upon Tyne, with NE3, NE4, NE5 and NE6 postcodes too are welcome to apply for the cash, to spend on any worthwhile community project which does one of the following:
- Contributes to raising the awareness of the dangers of using ‘loan sharks’
- Promotes professional credit options to people at risk of using ‘loan sharks’
- Promotes financial management or budgeting to people at risk of using ‘loan sharks’
- Reduces crime, disorder and illegal money lending in the local are
Applicants have until Friday 16th September to place their bids.
Those who meet above the criteria will have their project shortlisted. The public will then have the opportunity to vote in person and online for the group who they would like to win the money.
Tony Quigley, Head of Service for England Illegal Money Lending Team comments:
“Illegal money lenders are a scourge on our communities, and can have a hugely detrimental impact on the lives of their victims. Through schemes such as this, we are able to use this money for something positive and help to prevent these criminals from operating in the future. We would always urge victims of illegal money lenders to seek help by contacting us in confidence on 0300 555 2222”
To ensure that a number of projects can be funded, groups can apply for up to a maximum of £1,250 per project idea. Groups can submit more than one project idea.
For an application form, please contact email Catherine Wohlers on Catherine.firstname.lastname@example.org
The winners will be announced at the end of October 2016.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text a report to 078600 22116
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject