Leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband, today followed in the footsteps of campaigns led and supported by Movement for Change across the UK and signed up to save with a London Credit Union. The visit coincided with the Labour Party’s pledge to impose a levy on the profits of payday lenders to help support lower-cost lending from credit unions, and boost money advice services.
Ed Miliband thanked Movement for Change for their hard work. “Congratulations on all the fantastic work Movement for Change has been doing on this issue across the UK”, he continued.
Movement for Change has been building power through lasting relationships – and achieved major wins – on better access to fairer forms of credit across the country. In Newcastle, following the Wonga NUFC sponsorship deal, Movement for Change activists, local Labour party members, trade unions, community groups, and the council came together to help recapitalise the credit union so it could offer more payday loans. In Southampton, Movement for Change activists have taken action to build a stronger local credit union by striking a 'Two for One' deal with the local credit union; for every two new savers recruited through their campaign, the credit union would make available one extra loan to someone at risk of using a payday lenders. In Swansea, young mums who have been dragged into debt by payday lenders have negotiated with a major regional paper to secure free advertising and feature pieces for the credit union. In Cumbria, activists are entering into negotiations with the council. And today in Edinburgh, Movement for Change Chair Kez Dugdale announced that as a result of Debtbusters work, Capital Credit Union will now offer short term payday loans in Edinburgh.
The Labour Leader also met with an organiser from Movement for Change and leaders from campaigns fighting to tackle high cost credit around the country.
Leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband met with Movement for Change and Sharkstoppers activists to hear about their experiences with payday lending
“It was great to be able to share my experiences with high cost credit with Ed. Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction” said Natalie.
Natalie is a young post graduate student who lives in London, and who has had trouble with debt. She borrowed £400 to help with living costs after her student loan wasn’t enough, and ended up in a cycle where she paid back more than £1,000. Natalie came on the Movement for Change intensive training weekend in community organising last June and worked on the issue of high cost credit at the University of East London.
“I want to challenge the stereotype of the person who takes out a payday loan. People studying and working hard to further their career aspirations are also finding it difficult to make ends meet and get into serious debt because of lack of access to fairer forms of credit”, continued Natalie.
Ed Miliband also met with Steve, who took out a payday loan of £170 to help out a friend and ended up in a downward spiral of increasing debt.
“If I had known there was somewhere socially responsible to lend from five years ago I would have signed up to save with them and I wouldn’t be in in this trouble now”, Stevie told Ed Miliband.
“I was so ashamed of the situation I was in and felt unable to stand up for myself and speak up against the payday lending industry. I then got involved with Movement for Change and went on their training weekend: they helped me realise my power and find my voice to stand up to these legal loan sharks and share my story to bring more people out of feeling that shame,” said Steve.
Ed’s pledge to impose a levy on the profits of payday lenders today is a step forward to secure access to fairer forms of credit but the organising doesn’t end here.
First, we need to ensure that when in government the Labour Party will follow through on this commitment. Secondly, our campaign has shown how payday lenders use harassment and intimidation to trap their customers in cycles of unaffordable debt. Explaining how such practices would be stamped out is an urgent task for Labour and one that Movement for Change hope to see commitments on from Labour in the coming months.
The Leader of the Labour party has asked the Vice Chair of Movement for Change and Shadow Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs, Stella Creasy, to take the lead on the Party’s work on this issue.
Want to get involved with Movement for Change and Sharkstoppers? Then get in touch.