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Cheshire East libraries may ban payday loan sites

18th June 2013 @ 1:01am – by AudlemOnline Reporter
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Cheshire East may block Internet access to 'payday loan' firms in libraries across the area.

A report to next week's Cabinet meeting recommends that access to payday loan websites be banned on computers used by the public in all council libraries and other council buildings.

It says the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) regulator has revealed "widespread irresponsible lending" in the industry and that the Citizens Advice Bureau has described the payday loan industry as "out of control".

Payday loans have increased in popularity over recent years. Typically, someone borrows a few hundred pounds from a payday loan firm for a short time, to tide them over until they receive their next wage packet or salary cheque.

But critics claim the loans, which carry substantial interest charges, are handed out to people aged under 18, to those with mental health issues, and to individuals unable to pay them off.

The public can get access the Internet through computers in Cheshire East libraries using the People's Network. The software that manages Internet access can be used to filter access to specified websites, typically those containing illegal, obscene or pornographic material.

This software would also enable the Council to block access to payday loan websites and it's proposed that access is blocked to the top 50 payday lender websites identified in the OFT's Compliance review.

Some local authorities have already banned online payday loan companies from library computers. Dundee City Council was the first to impose a ban in December last year in a bid to stop people getting into debt over Christmas.

The move has been criticised by the Consumer Finance Association which represents some of the largest and most responsible pay-day lenders in the UK.

Now Cheshire East councillors will be asked to impose a similar ban in local libraries. The report by Cheshire East's Customer Service and Libraries Manager says: "This policy will enable the Council to take action to protect people from falling into a high interest debt trap and guide them towards affordable credit.


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