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Government unveils anti-loan shark projects

Chancellor Gordon Brown has unveiled additional funding to enable the national roll out of a scheme to tackle loan sharks, with a project in every region.

Schemes tackling loan sharks have already been piloted in the Birmingham and Glasgow areas and work by improving financial advice for people targeted by loan sharks and exposing and prosecuting the people illegally charging exorbitant rates of interest.

The government says these new projects are an important part of its strategy of increasing the availability of affordable and appropriate sources of credit for those suffering from financial exclusion.

Ed Balls, the minister responsible for financial inclusion, says: “Loan sharks are a blight on some of the least well off communities, and so I am pleased to see the success we are already having in tackling these criminals and helping their victims.

“Today’s announcement will bring help to more victims nationwide while also sending a further warning that these illegal and unacceptable practices will not be tolerated.”

Ian McCartney, minister for trade and industry, adds: “Over the last two years, two pilot specialist teams in the West Midlands and Scotland have been working to tackle criminals who illegally give out quick cash loans, often using intimidation and threats of violence to extort large sums of money in return.

“These teams work by overcoming the barriers to successful law enforcement that often arise from the fear and intimidation of victims, and by providing support to victims in finding legal alternatives.

“The teams have been responsible for a number of high profile prosecutions of loan-sharks in Birmingham and Glasgow.

“The government announced in December that funding would be made available for these pilots to be extended to new locations, including Sheffield, Leeds/Bradford, and Liverpool.

“Today’s announcement sees the roll out of the projects around the country, focussing on areas where the problem of illegal lending is prevalent.”

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