More than one in ten carers have borrowed from loan sharks

During Carers Week (7-13 June 2021) we are highlighting our services and support for carers after recent statistics showed one in ten had borrowed from loan sharks last year.

Figures from the England Illegal Money Lending Team 2020 victim statistics report showed 12% of carers were offered support after falling victim to illegal money lending.

This year, carers across the country are continuing to face new challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people are taking on more caring responsibilities for their relatives and friends who are disabled, ill or older and who need support.

Loan sharks prey on people at their most vulnerable. They often give cash loans without any paperwork, charge high-interest rates making loans difficult or impossible to pay back, and use threats and violence against those who fall behind with their payments.

If you’re a carer and struggling to make ends meet, the Money Advice Service has lots of useful advice and guides to help improve your finances.

If you care for someone full-time or part-time, you might be entitled to Carer’s Allowance or other benefits and financial support. You can check what benefits you are entitled to on the government’s website.

You can also find out about local support groups and services available in your area by contacting your local council.

Many of the Carers Week supporter charities provide more guidance, including Carers Trust, who have a network of local services providing support to carers. They also have a grants programme that can provide one off payments for support. 

If you or someone you know is affected by illegal money lending, contact Stop Loan Sharks for specialist support on 0300 555 2222 or use our Live Chat service to talk to a support worker in real-time.

Case Study – Nicola’s Story

Name and some identifying details have been changed. 

Nicola is a single mother of four children and a full-time carer for her eldest son who has ADHD. Whilst running around after the kids and keeping the house clean and tidy, Nicola decided that she wanted to do up the garden to give the kids a special treat. Nicola was up to date with her bills so didn’t see the harm in borrowing money. Nicola’s neighbour introduced her to Benny. Benny and Nicola got on really well and became close – Nicola thought she could rely on him, she trusted him, he knew all about her kids and her struggles to support her son and when he offered to lend her £1000 she thought he was her knight in shining armour. At first, all was good Nicola was paying back £200 per fortnight from her income and Benny was relying on her to pay him back.

It started off just missing the gas and electric payments, then it was the water, then Nicola was two months behind on her rent. She must have paid Benny back by now – but he still insisted she hadn’t paid him back yet. Nicola went to withdraw some money from her credit union account and was refused.  Panicking she went into the branch, she really needed money for new school uniforms.  The credit union officer explained her account was overdrawn – the £200 per fortnight had wiped her out and she was behind on most of her bills.

Nicola broke down and explained she had borrowed money from Benny – a local guy in the community as she wanted to treat the kids for the summer so they could all play happily in the garden together. She hadn’t been keeping on top of things financially, her son was needing all her attention and she was exhausted. Nicola had no paperwork for the loan and the credit union officer was worried as she had already repaid Benny £1800 – how much more did Benny want?

The credit union officer explained to Nicola that as she had no paperwork for the loan then the loan may be illegal and offered to call the IMLT to get specialist advice and help.

Benny was an illegal money lender and not registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.  The Illegal Money Lending Team visited Benny with a warrant, confiscated the £40k hidden in his loft, and explained to Nicola that she had done absolutely nothing wrong. Benny was the one who had broken the law and had to serve a prison sentence for his crimes.   

Nicola was one of 60 people that had borrowed money from Benny.  Accessing advice and support from the Illegal Money Lending Team helped Nicola and as it turned out many of her friends in the community get away from the manipulation and control of Benny, get their finances back on track whilst confidently knowing the IMLT would provide emotional and practical support.

You can find out more about Carers Week, and how to get involved, here: www.carersweek.org