Council scheme aims to educate young people about savings

IT IS a sad truth that many people in Glasgow fight a daily battle with poverty.

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Lack of money can cause sleepless nights, health problems, relationships to break up, even suicide.

Glasgow, with its high levels of deprivation, has become a target for money lending operations, some charging annual interest rates of more than 20,000%.

Recent research found city residents borrow more than £57million each year from payday lenders, home credit, pawnbrokers and rent-to-own shops.

In 2013, 100,000 men and women in the city regularly used non-standard forms of credit.

Councillors of every political party in the City Chambers are desperate to stop people falling into a spiral of debt from which they are unlikely to escape.

And last week they launched a campaign against payday lenders in the unlikely setting of a secondary school.

Former South African leader Nelson Mandela said: "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

And councillors have decided educating the city's young people on the dangers of payday lenders may prevent them facing misery in future.

ALL 4000 pupils in first year of secondary school have been offered a savings account with a local, respected credit union.

To encourage them to save, the council has given each child a deposit of £10.

But as importantly, each youngster will have a relationship with a credit union and in future, access to affordable loans and help to manage their money.

The scheme will be repeated each year so in six years time, every pupil who has passed through a city council secondary school will have had the chance to take part in the scheme.

Glasgow is the first council to introduce what is has christened the Future Savers scheme but other local authorities are looking on with interest at the work done in Glasgow.

The serious concerns about payday lenders has led to a cross-party group being set up to look at the extent and impact of the problem.

Early action included banning payday lender websites on all council computers, affecting staff and people using libraries.

The local authority has also decided to ban the high interest loan companies from renting any of its commercial properties.

And officials are working with the £13billion Strathclyde Pension Fund to ensure no direct investments are made in the trade.

Taking on the wealthy payday lending companies will not be an easy fight as they have the cash to lure in customers.

But the council has made a good start in helping to protect some of its most vulnerable residents.

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