Friday, 9 May 2014

Pay-Day Loans Impoverish Communities as well as Individuals

The damage by payday loan companies to individuals is well documented; however what is the effect the communities they live? David Boyle of the New Economics Foundation Has done some research. The profits of the top ten payday loan companies in the UK were about £194 million, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. It is not clear how much the profits of the other 230 or so payday loan companies are, but the same report suggests that the turnover of the top ten is about 55 per cent of the total. That suggests that we might extrapolate some guide figure. Perhaps about £400 million a year is being extracted from the some of the poorest areas of the nation. This will be an under-estimate because it excludes the money extracted to cover basic costs. It is also a suggestion of what the figure might be, which is a reason for more research to pinpoint the amount being extracted more precisely. If that is so, it is a serious problem, given that the way that money stays circulating in the most impoverished areas, from local business to local business, is a vital element in their economic resilience. If there is an economic vacuum cleaner on the high street, it means that what enterprises survive locally will be that much less viable, and the neighbourhood that much more dependent on benefits and grants. The loan companies point to the amount of money they are funnelling into the poorest economies. But more research is needed about the long-term impact on the poorest local economies when the borrowers are expected to pay back the loan, but find the equivalent of 5,000 per cent annual interest as well. At the heart of this idea is the theory that maximising the use of the money already flowing through the economy, so that it is passed from local business to local business before it flows away, can increase the economic impact without necessarily requiring new money. If the real difference between a wealthy place and an impoverished place is how much money stays circulating there, then the impact of the payday loan companies matters very much. In other words, the impact isn’t just felt by the person paying back the loan: it is felt by their neighbours as well.

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