The Council has created a webpage with lots of information and advice available from tips on how to keep your house warm to where to go for financial help and debt advice https://maidstone.gov.uk/home/other-services/cost-of-living-advice
Cllr Lottie Parfitt-Reid, Lead Member for Communities and Public Engagement at MBC said:
“We know that Christmas can be a very difficult time of year for those people already struggling to cope with rising energy, fuel and food bills. We have pulled together as much information as we can to help people understand where they can go for help and what they can do to try and save money too.
“Sadly, we also realise that ruthless loan sharks will try to cash in on the festive period as many families struggle to cope with rising food, fuel and energy bills this winter. We work closely with The England Illegal Money Lending Team to help spread awareness of loan sharks tactics during the festive season when their activity increases dramatically.”
Figures from The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) show that nearly one in ten people who borrowed from loan sharks last year did so to cover the costs of Christmas.
Loan sharks create an environment of fear, intimidation and control for their victims and they will use almost any means to tempt people into taking out a loan with them. They know how to spot people who are vulnerable and who need money. This creates a vicious cycle of debt for those unable to pay back their loans and often leads to serious financial issues, such as families losing their homes or being pushed into extreme poverty because they do not have enough money to survive.
“Loan sharks present a significant threat to the safety, security and well-being of many individuals in our community. They use deceptive tactics that can isolate people from friends, family and support services. We can all work together to let friends and family know about how they operate and where to get help.”
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said:
“Loan sharks are doing untold damage in local communities, and we must do all we can to stop them. With their ruthless tactics, these predators are threatening vulnerable families, driving them deeper into debt, and pulling entire communities into an endless cycle of despair.
“At a time when families are under extreme cost pressures with mounting living costs, we are deeply concerned that those who are already struggling to make ends meet could be targeted by these predatory lenders.
“Our campaign aims to break this cycle by helping people understand the risks of loan sharks, what they can do if they feel threatened and where they can turn for help and support.
“The Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 Helpline offers confidential advice and support to anyone affected by illegal money lending. We know how stressful and frightening this experience can be. We can give you support on how to deal with this problem and help find a way forward.”
Are you worried about a friend or family member who is being taken advantage of by a loan shark? Contact the Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 Helpline on 0300 555 2222 for support or visit https://www.stoploansharks.co.uk/. Live Chat is available on the website between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.