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Loan shark victim 'appalled' Lewisham has most payday shops to people in UK
A former Lewisham loan shark victim is "appalled" that the borough has the highest ratio of payday shops to residents in the whole of the UK.
The borough ranked worst nationally with 7.6 quick-cash stores for every 100,000 residents, according to new figures released by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
It is the first time stores run by the biggest high street suppliers of short-term credit have been mapped and the findings linked deprived areas with higher numbers of lending shops.
Labour Councillor for Lewisham Central ward Councillor Mike Harris, who was himself a victim of spiralling payday loan costs, has voiced concern over the clustering of shops in Lewisham.
Cllr Harris said: "I am absolutely appalled that Lewisham has become the target for payday loan firms.
"Lewisham Council called on the government to give us the powers to say ‘no’ to anymore shops and the government has refused to give us those powers so our hands are tied.
"At the moment we are in a straight jacket."
He says many residents have contacted him with fears about the number of shops in the area with some stuck in a "cycle of debt" and forced to take in lodgers to get extra cash.
He went on to say firms also targeted estates where people had been hit by benefit cuts to flyer them about high interest loans.
Cllr Harris, who needed quick cash years ago, took out a loan for just £80 and was hounded with messages from the firm and had to repay £100 the following week.
He said: "They would bombard me with text messages and aggressive emails to make me take out more.
"I was lucky but a lot of people can’t get out of the cycle of debt.
"The real reason that Lewisham is at the top of the list is because of the impact of benefit cuts.
"It has disproportionately impacted on inner London boroughs and Lewisham has been really hit with around one in 10 families affected."
He urged families needing a short-term loan to go to their local credit union where interest rates are much lower than payday loan firms.
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