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GOVT MUST RETHINK CUTS TO ILLEGAL LOAN SHARK CRACKDOWN TEAM

201512 PMQ

Today I asked the Chancellor at PMQs about the England Illegal Money Lending Team – based in Birmingham.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team is national organisation which investigates, prosecutes and supports victims who have fallen into the clutches of loan sharks.

The scheme has helped over 24,000 loan shark victims. It costs £3.6m to run but has got £63million of illegal debts written off. Spend £3.6m to help some of the most vulnerable people in the country being ripped off to the tune of £63m? That sounds like good value for money to me. But, as Christmas approaches and loan sharks get hungrier to fleece people who have little money to buy family Christmas presents, the Illegal Money Lending Team faces losing a third of its budget due to Government cuts.

It is possible 17 jobs could be axed from the Team’s 54 Birmingham-based staff, despite their securing more than 330 prosecutions since its 2004 launch.

I asked the Government is making huge cuts to the team’s budget, particularly in the run-up to Christmas, and urged him to reflect on this with Sajid Javid, Business Secretary and MP for Bromsgrove, who has so far avoided to answer questions on it. You can watch the clip of my question and George Osborne’s response below.

You will see he completely avoided answering the question. George Osborne’s comment about a levy financed by industry is all well and good, but why is he cutting this successful Team in the meantime? Let’s see if Sajid Javid does better in answering questions from MPs when he comes before the House on Tuesday…