BENEFICIARIES NEED BETTER PROTECTION FROM HIGH INTEREST LOANS

Community Law welcomes the Ministry of Social Development’s decision to ensure staff don’t advise beneficiaries to get high interest loans and wants the Government to go further to protect New Zealanders from predatory credit practices.
Yesterday, Community Law joined the growing list of organisations calling on the Government to specify interest caps on consumer credit. It also exposed the pattern of beneficiaries being advised by Work and Income staff to seek credit from loan sharks.
“The Consumer Credit Bill is currently before Parliament and it needs to be strengthened in order to provide protection for vulnerable people when they are at their most vulnerable,” says Community Law Centres o Aotearoa CEO, Sue Moroney.
“An interest rate cap has worked in the United Kingdom and we believe it would make a positive difference here too.”
Community Law is alarmed about the sharp increase in attachment orders for debt repayments from beneficiaries, after law changes in 2011 simplified the process, removing important protections for those with limited financial means.
“We are one of the organisations dealing with the daily misery inflicted on those who can least afford it by the predatory high interest loan companies,” says Sue. “Desperate people do desperate things and it destroys lives”
“It’s time Government took stronger action to protect its citizens from this scourge.”

ENDS
Media contacts:
Sue Moroney, CEO Community Law Centres o Aotearoa Ph 027 422 7831, sue@clca.co.nz

Background
Twenty-four Community Law Centres work out of over 140 locations across New Zealand to provide free legal help and advice to those who are unable to pay for a private lawyer or who do not have access to legal aid. This advice covers all aspects of New Zealand’s legal system, including family law, employment issues, housing problems, consumer advice and criminal law. As well as around 170 staff, Community Law’s services are boosted by over 1,200 volunteer lawyers who run clinics and deliver free advice and assistance.

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