A DEBT charity has reported a ‘dramatic rise’ in the number of Fifers contacting its helpline as a result of difficulties with pay day loans.
And according to other advice agencies in the Kingdom pay day loans are a growing trend among the clients seeking their help.
This week Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance expressed his fears over the increasing problem of pay day loans.
He told The Press: “It really concerns me.
“These companies are preying on the most vulnerable people in our society, the people with the least money in their pockets.
“They are charging them extortionate rates to get that loan and it is putting them in trouble so they are having to continually go back and use the system.
“These people feel they have no other option but to go with them.
“My advice would be to go to credit unions rather than go to pay day loan companies and getting into the spiral of debt that they can’t get out of.
“It just shows with the number of these companies that have increased on Kirkcaldy High Street alone, offering these services, how profitable it is for these companies.”
According to StepChange Debt Charity last year 11 per cent of its clients in the Fife Council area had payday loans, but recent figures show this number has almost tripled to 30 per cent in the first three months of this year.
And this trend has also been seen by Citizens Advice and Rights Fife (CARF).
Norma Philpott, chief executive of the organisation, said: “Pay day loans have been an issue for all CABs in Scotland for some time now.
“We have had an increase in pay day lending but it’s not been a sudden issue. It’s been a gradual increase, we presume becuase of the difficulties people face in trying to receive credit through the banks.”
Mrs Philpott said that something else which has been noticeable through the work they do with clients across Fife is that those with pay day loan difficulties are increasingly taking out more than one loan.
She continued: “It’s a big issue, people are not just accessing one.
“There’s a significant trend of people having more than one pay day loan.
“Just in the last quarter we had one client who was in full time employment and had seven pay day loans, four with the same company.
“People in that situation have no other option but to roll their loans over.
“A lot of people, when they get into difficulty paying back their loans think there is no solution other than to take out another loan, but there is.
“There are different things that can be done and we’d advise people to get in touch with ourselves.”
Councillor David Ross, depute leader of Fife Council, added: “The Council is very much aware of the problem and committed to assisting people who get in to financial difficulties as far as we possibly can, and to help them avoid the problems of pay day loans.”