Council leader calls for regulators to make a 'clear decision' on payday ads

Payday loans: council leader wants regulators to make a clear decision on advertising
Payday loans: council leader wants regulators to make a clear decision on advertising

Regulators need to make a "clear decision" on payday loan ads to protect people from borrowing at extortionate interest rates, the council leader for Cheshire East has urged.

Cheshire East Council is among the authorities that have announced they are considering a ban on payday loan advertising in town centres, attracting criticism from the Advertising Association who said the move could prove "detrimental".

However, Michael Jones, the leader of Cheshire East Council, said the council was just "protecting the rights of our people" against payday loan ads which he described as "very seductive".

He stressed he was not against all payday loan companies, but rather the ones offering high interest dates.

Tim Lefroy, the chief executive of the AA, criticised the banning of ads by councils and said it was the Advertising Standards Authority and Office of Fair Trading that were "best placed to determine whether further attention is required".

In response, Jones said: "I understand that the Advertising Association would want to protect its own industry, but it’s exactly the same over here, we are representing the people."

He likened the issue to smoking, and said: "Borrowing money at these rates is immoral and it is the same as with smoking, we banned those ads didn’t we?"

Jones continued: "We have some very deep poverty, especially in our larger towns. We aren’t against payday loans [in theory], but when you are getting people paying such high interests then something needs to be done".

Cheshire East is considering passing a bylaw to ban the ads, and Jones said the law was just waiting to pass through council.

Plymouth Council was the first to ban payday loan firms from advertising on billboards and bus stops in its city centre earlier this month, and Medway Council is currently taking legal advice on whether to ban the ads.

In March, the Government promised to work to bring in new advertising restrictions for payday loan companies in conjunction with the OFT, the ASA and the industry. The Competition Commission has launched an investigation into the loans.

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