Kilburn payday lender accused of masquerading as the Samaritans

Campaigners outside the Kilburn branch of Speedy Cash

Campaigners outside the Kilburn branch of Speedy Cash - Credit: Archant

A payday lender in Kilburn has been accused of ‘masquerading’ as the Samaritans to entice financially strapped residents into taking out loans with yearly interest rates of up 1,223 per cent.

Members of lobby group Just Money – which is run by Camden Citizens campaign group – are calling for action claiming Speedy Cash in Kilburn High Road, are displaying adverts akin to those used by the charity that specialises in providing emotional support.

They claim posters with slogans such as “You are not aloan” and “We are here if you need us” are deliberately targeting the most desperate members of the community.

They also say the shop has images of Speedy Cash advisers reassuring customers which is misleading people caught in debt and financial difficulties.

Speedy Cash currently charges 0.8pc a day, the maximum allowed on loans, which could build up annual interest charges of 1,223.6pc. According to financial advice website, the annual interest on a personal loan should vary between 3.5 and 4.5pc.

Just Money has written to Camden Council calling for them to set a legal precedent by forcing the shop to scrap its window display. David Barclay, from Camden Citizens, told the Times: “This unacceptable advertising campaign targets some of the most vulnerable people in our community into taking out payday loans instead of looking towards alternatives like credit unions.”

In a lengthy complaint, Just Money claim the company’s advertising is of the ‘type used by genuine charities which aim to alleviate rather than exacerbate the problems for the vulnerable, such the Samaritans’.

Supporters of the ban include Tulip Siddiq, Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, and lawyer Jacob Turner.

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Mr Turner, who compiled the Just Money case for free, has vowed to fight on even if the town hall refuses to take action.

He said: “We have researched a number of legal rules and regulations which councils across the country could use to serve discontinuance notices to remove this kind of display.

“I’m not giving up on this; I will try any legal method to make it as difficult as possible for these companies to use these misleading campaigns.”

Mike Katz, 43, a former Kilburn councillor and leader of Kilburn Fair Credit campaign, has been battling for greater action to be taken against money lenders in the area.

He said: “It’s very easy for anyone in financial difficulty to walk down Kilburn High Road and find themselves in a pay day lender being told they can solve their money problems.

“We need to use regulation, legislation and moral pressure to prevent payday lenders from exploiting people’s vulnerabilities. It isn’t just money for free.”

The Times contacted Speedy Cash’s UK headquarters but was told no one was available to comment. Camden Council will make a decision once a planning enforcement officer visits the shop by the September 8 and makes an assessment.