Sharkstoppers is the campaign for fair regulation of payday lenders. The campaign was kick started by Stella Creasy MP, and is now run by activists working in communities across the country. We’re supported by Movement for Change, a Labour Party organisation that works with grassroots campaigners. They’ve brought all the local campaigns together into a national action, and they’ve given us training and guidance along the way, and they’re generally very nice people, so you should check them out.
I got involved in 2011, when I was still struggling out of the payday loan trap myself. Yes, I am one of the people who made a bad decision and paid the price for it. I’d learned the hard way about the problems in the industry. I didn’t get involved in the campaign because I want payday lenders to be banned – that isn’t what Sharkstoppers is about. It’s about fixing the problems and making the system fair.
One of the first aims of the campaign was to get a cap on the cost of credit. There is no need for any company to have ‘bleed as much as possible from desperate people’ as their business plan. We got the Labour party to pledge to introduce it, we got the Tories' attention, we pressured the government to act, and now the cap is being introduced. It’s going to make a huge difference to thousands of people, and I’m really proud of my part in it, but it’s only the first step.
The next stage of the campaign will focus on protecting vulnerable people from exploitation. That means:
- Ensuring that people have access to affordable short term credit from other sources – we’re big fans of Credit Unions
- Making sure that marketing and advertising is responsible
- Making sure that credit checks are up to date, and that people are not offered loans they cannot afford (and there is such a big difference between a loan you can technically pay back, and one you can afford).