Controversy surrounds short term loans firm’s school lessons

Business and finance lessons at a Walthamstow secondary college last week were a bit more interesting than the college authorities bargained for when the new honorary “teachers” were accused of being loans sharks out to target the poor and ramp up debt. Walthamstow’s Holy Trinity College was host venue for staff from the instant cash loan company “The Money Shop” for a full day’s event.

The company is one of the burgeoning number of Britain’s short term and instant cash loans companies that have caused so many social commentators to bristle with anger. The controversy surrounds the high fees and interest rates that these companies charge the people who turn to them in desperation, normally for short tem loans until they are able to collect their next pay packet.

MP for Walthamstow, Stella Creasy, has been one of a number of MPs who have been actively campaigning in Parliament to have interest rates capped and roll-overs restricted and, coincidentally, was on the street picketing outside the Money Shop’s High Streetoffice with ex London Mayor Ken Livingstone just a few days after the teach-in at the college.

A spokesman from the Money Shop denied that the company was a loan shark and that it targeted weak and vulnerable people. He said that the company was a professional provider of short term loans and was a member of the Consumer Finance Association and had always abided with its code of practice. The spokesman said that the Money Shop only lent money to people who already had identifiable bank accounts and were employed or who had a regular income.

The college’s Assistant Head, Adele Klitou, said that it was encouraging to see staff from the Money Shop spend time teaching year 9 students (aged 13 to 14) about real life business management skills. She said that it was far more valuable for teenagers to learn about the skills that they would need to know about after leaving school.

The short term loans firm was attending the one day skills session at the college in association with a charity called the Young Enterprise Charity. Helen Wedderburn, regional manager of the charity said the Money Shop staff had been very informative, teaching students about the world of work and the problems of managing finance and personal budgets. She said that the company was very keen to work with local schools.

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