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Trading standards job cuts will see consumers ‘fall victim’ to loan companies

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Cuts to trading standards services are putting the public at the mercy of unscrupulous loan companies, UNISON warned today.

The warning comes at a time when 15% of the trading standards workforce has been cut, and significant other reductions have been made. 

A survey of trading standards officers reveal widespread concern that consumers will fall victim to illegal – and legal – loan companies as they struggle to make ends meet in a difficult economic climate.

The union said these cuts are reducing the ability of the remaining workforce ‘not only to identify and crack down on loan sharks, but also to educate the public on the risks of loan companies before they end up in debt’.

Helga Pile, UNISON national officer for trading standards, said: “Illegal – and legal – money lenders always flourish in difficult economic times, but staff shortages and budget cuts are holding trading standards services back, allowing these operations to continue preying on the public.

“The irony is that a properly funded and efficient trading standards service actually benefits the economy, returning an average of six pounds for every pound invested, while protecting the interests of legitimate businesses and keeping the public safe.”

UNISON is warning the public against finding themselves in debt with unregulated, illegal outfits such as loan sharks, or payday loan companies who often have enormous and complicated rates of interest.

Credit unions and mutuals were a safer, legal alternative, the union added.

A recent study also revelaed that nearly a quarter (22%) of Brits will run out of money before the end of January.

The report commissioned by asked people about their debt and credit card spending throughout 2013.

It found 23% of Brits do not expect to have paid off their Christmas spending on credit and store cards by the end of January, while 8% think that it will be beyond June 2013 before they have paid off their festive debts.

Almost a quarter of those surveyed (23%) were seriously worried about their finances while 15 per cent expect to have a credit card debt throughout 2013.

Eight per cent rely on credit cards to make ends meet and 4% will need to take out a loan in 2013.

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