Scotland to launch 'Financial Health Service'
Scotland is to launch a Financial Health Service to help people with money and debt worries as part of a 12-point plan to reduce the number of payday lenders.
There are estimated to be between 180 and 200 payday lenders on the country's high streets and the Scottish Government is now consulting on how to tighten regulations and make planning procedures stricter to clamp down on them.
The Financial Health Service will be a website that will launch in the autumn as a "one-stop-shop for money advice services" and financial education.
Local Government Minister Derek Mackay said: "Our new Financial Health Service website will bring together different strands and sources of information and advice, so that anybody with a concern or an issue to do with debt or borrowing can find, in one place, the help and assistance that they need.
Other measures in the plan include placing greater emphasis on promoting credit unions and giving planning authorities the ability to prevent "clustering and over-provision" of payday lenders and betting shops.
Payday lenders could also be excluded from small business bonus schemes that give them a reduction in business rates.
Mackay said: "Payday loan companies are not only blighting our high streets but they are exposing people to financial credit they just cannot afford.
He added: "I won't pretend that this action plan will solve the problem overnight but it's a step in the right direction... Tackling the increasing numbers of payday lending businesses will not only stop more people being driven into poverty, but will help give our town centres a sense of identity and be more attractive places for people to live, work and visit."
At a payday loan summit held by the Scottish Government earlier this year, Susan McPhee from Citizens Advice Scotland said the organisation deals with more than 100 cases involving payday loans every week.
Short-term cash loans designed to be borrowed mid-way through the month to tide the borrower over until they next get paid, whereupon the loan is settled. Generally used by people with bad credit ratings and/or no access to short-term credit such as an overdraft or credit card. Like logbook loans, this type of borrowing is hugely expensive: the average APR on payday loans is well over 1,000% and in some instances can be considerably more.