PAYDAY loan shops should be charged higher rates in a bid to drive them out of disadvantaged areas, according to a Glasgow MSP.
Bob Doris, SNP MSP for Glasgow, said action was required to protect people from the increasing presence on high streets of shops offering short-term loans at inflated interest rates compared to traditional lenders.
The Scottish Government is today hosting a summit to discuss the growing phenomenon of high street and internet loan firms charging thousands of percent APR as debt advisers and poverty campaigners say they are plunging more people deeper into debt.
Mr Doris suggested introducing a charge on payday lenders similar to the temporary public health levy the Scottish Government imposed on large supermarkets which sell both alcohol and tobacco.
He said like alcohol and tobacco, debt has a negative impact on health and similar action would be justified.
He said: "According to Citizens Advice Scotland, 90% of debtors say their indebtedness has affected their health.
"Almost all reported an impact on their mental health, with a third saying it also impinged on them physically.
"With around a hundred households contacting Citizens Advice every week due to debt problems connected to payday lenders, something must be done.
"Offering easy credit at eye-watering rates of interest to those who can least afford it is not only causing huge social misery, but is also a major health concern."
The MSP has written to Derek Mackay, planning and local government minister, to ask him to consider his proposal to combat what he termed the "proliferation of irresponsible lenders on our high streets".
The summit will take place in Glasgow today to discuss what measures local government would be allowed to take using the planning and licensing system to limit or reduce the number of payday lending shops and betting shops which could open and operate in deprived areas.
Mr Mackay agreed to the request for a summit from Mr Doris during a Holyrood debate in January.