Friday, 16 August 2013

'We need independence to curb payday lenders'

Local MSP Margaret Burgess has welcomed the announcement from First Minister Alex Salmond that payday lenders would be subject to tougher regulation in an independent Scotland.

The First Minister’s statement came after the UK Tory-Lib Dem Government rebuffed Scottish Government pleas for immediate action.

Margaret Burgess said, “The First Minister has proposed that short-term interest rates be capped, as is the case in many countries in Europe, as well as Japan, Canada and some US states.

“These proposals will help to curb the exorbitant interest rates charged by some payday lenders, and restrict the rolling-over of loans, which sees those unable to pay-off the initial debt saddled with a bigger loan that is more difficult to clear.”

Mrs Burgess, MSP for Cunninghame South, which includes Stevenston, said, “Our pledge comes after it was revealed that the Westminster Government rebuffed pleas from Scottish Ministers to introduce a cap on interest rates as part of a toughening of the regulations surrounding the industry.

“It is a massive disappointment that the Westminster Government – which currently has powers over financial regulation and payday loans – is refusing to take any action in this area.  It can be done elsewhere, and there is no reason why it cannot be done here.”

Mrs Burgess also highlighted how the limited powers of devolution were insufficient to block the damage being done in Scotland by cuts and austerity measures imposed by Westminster.  The SNP MSP said, “We are doing all we can, through policies such as the Social Wage, which sees Council Tax remaining frozen, free prescriptions maintained, concessionary bus travel supported and a Living Wage of £7.45 for workers covered by Scottish Government pay policy.

“The SNP Government has also established the £33-million Scottish Welfare Fund for families facing hardship as a result of welfare cuts.”

Reflecting on next year’s Independence Referendum, Margaret Burgess said, “We face a choice of two futures, and the only certainty of a ‘No’ vote is more of the same austerity and hardship from Westminster.  But with a ‘Yes’ vote, we can stop the scandal of 50,000 children in Scotland being pushed into poverty by 2020, and we can gain the powers to build a fairer society.”

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