Time To Drive Out The MoneyLenders?

I’m still basking in the aceness of what happened at the weekend – see the last post – but that doesn’t mean I can’t express annoyance at stuff. I’d love to bask in the loveliness that is raising an astonishing £700 on a single night without recourse to muggings, but bah! I’ve got an hour free on a laptop, feel my spleen.
There is a running joke regarding Beeston’s surfeit of charity shops. This is seen as a mark of a town in decline. I can run with that argument for a moment: they might dent the coffers of the local trades-people, but only at a minimal level; surely a bit of competition is healthy?

What they do actually do is worth examining. While we are still gripped by a recession lorded over by a bunch who seem intent of snubbing out every financial flammable flicker of hope, they are saviours. Not just on the work they do, which can be hard to apply on a locale-by-locale basis, as most are centralised; but on an aesthetic level. An empty shop is seldom a pretty shop – i’d bang on about the scandal that is Wilkos still standing long after the April demolition order, but I’ll save that for later – so charity shops lend the High Street a sense of life, and this, above all, generates footfall for other businesses. You get rid of your excess clutter, people get to enhance their CVs with working there, the High Street is invigorated. Its win win win, with an extra couple of wins tacked on when you consider the good the money raised does; and the fact that Jeremy Clarkson books have to go somewhere to die.

Recession also brings forth another retailer. Like a swarm of vultures over a desert-dried corpse, it’s often subtle and silent. Yet they are here to infect, poison and ruin. Welcome to the world of Uncouth Usury.

You know who I mean. Those who offer ‘Cash For Gold’. Those who offer cheques ‘Cashed Today!’. Those who demand you come in, take a stupidly expensive loan out, with the same oleaginous charm of a crack dealer luring people in. Beeston is proliferate with these vermin. Why?

A recession, which we are most firmly locked into right now, may cut destructive swathes through the economy  on most levels but never more so than the poor. The banks withdraw not just loans and overdrafts in recession, but even basic current accounts, and here the parasites move in.

These shops are testament to this, and we should picket these places with all our might, but it’s no way the real pit of scumminess.

That lies in a coalition between two powers that have been accelerating in their emergence since the crunch of 2008. Step forward the Governing Right Wing; and the PayDay loaners: hello Wonga.com, and your scuzzy ilk.

In April, legislation will come in which will damage the financially vulnerable while profiting  the ethic-free with a set of policies that, after chatting to people of all political stripes that keep an eye on this sort of thing, utterly terrifying.

That month will see the birth of Universal Credit, long gestated in the fetid abdomen of Ian Duncan-Smith and cooed over, rather than being carted off to the abortion clinic by a castrated Lib Dem partner.

There are many elements why this is insidious legislation, so let’s be focussed. And stare through the  cloudy half-moons of our bifocals at Housing Benefit. If you’re reading this before a perm; or while forcing down crusts of bread, desist: this will make your hair curl.

In April, all benefits will be bundled together and paid directly to the recipient. ‘Great!’ you cry, ‘Give them financial responsibility!’, which is all well and good until you consider a few things. So do so.

How are your finances after payday. Do you carefully budget for the month, ensuring that you live a level lifestyle throughout? Or do you allow an intoxication of moolah upfront, repenting at leisure in the last week with an increase in frequency of meals composed of beans/ toast; rather than caviar/foccacia?

Then consider this. We’re all weak to advertising: yes, you included, you only are reading this blog through someone saying you should; and in a consumerist society you’re going to be bombarded with stuff you SIMPLY MUST HAVE. It’s difficult to negotiate even if you have an income – I know I’m not alone in thinking I’m deprived in some way in the fact I have no iPod, Kindle and am tapping this out on a borrowed laptop – so imagine what it’s like if poor.

Wonga.com;  and the rest of the exploitative crowd do. All the time. They have a direct line jacked into the most easily exploited and intend to use the information to extract whatever they can. Loans are thus offered well in excess of 1,000% with the knowledge that hey, they’ll have money soon.

When I was on the dole, I prioritised debts. I’d work out the APR, couple it with the likelihood I’d be less a kneecap by the end of the week, and distribute thus. If I’d had a debt that was racking up three times it’s capital each day, as opposed to a landlord that can’t legally rack up interest: most social tenants, fr’instance; and it’s obvious who wins.

Thus, social housing collapses, Wonga.com etc swell up their coffers to an obscene amount and we all wonder how the fuck it happened. My advice is to invest in cardboard. It’s the new housing.

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5 thoughts on “Time To Drive Out The MoneyLenders?

  1. Judy S says:

    We do have lots of charity shops but I would rather see them than an empty street. What has happened to Barnardo’s though? I always bought their cards, tremendous value, I really miss them. Not often you hear of a charity shop closing. Maybe now the Fire station has finally gone, we might get a new car park there and hopefully it will be free and get more shoppers into Beeston. Of course it would help if we still had Wilco’s……..

  2. Ellen says:

    If they hurry up and sort the bus station it might help too!

  3. A Different Matt says:

    Don’t understand your problem with the Housing Benefit. You’re saying poor people are too stupid to manage their own finances, so the government should do it for them?

  4. Tamar Feast says:

    I’ve never understood people’s beef about charity shops. I love them. Granted, you wouldn’t want JUST charity shops, but even if you did – just think what they sell: clothing (including for MEN), crockery, kitchenware, ornaments and trinket, cards, CDs, books, furniture… it’s quite a variety of stuff. I just put it down to being a viewpoint stemming from the times when people didn’t want to seen coming out of a charity shop – because it was in someway shameful. It meant you were poor. Having said that, maybe we need a bit more of that stigma. I’d rather a time when people were fearful of falling into poverty; and cautious enough with their hard-earned cash to spend it, clandestine-like, in secondhand shops than what we have at the moment – where some folk would *rather* be seen leaving Cash Converters after pawning their own child for money for an iPhone5, than not have a iPhone5.
    We should take this snobbery and invert it. Push out all-but-one of the pawn shops of Beeston (thats essentially what they are – though they’ve evolved into a more bloodthirsty, exploitative animal). Why we’d ever need more than one is beyond me. But then, I’d always rather be a ‘Oxfam tramp’ (school kids, eh?) than a loan shark’s bitch.

    p.s. where DO men buy clothes in Beeston?

  5. stevebarber says:

    Dead right! I work in Bulwell where debt is a massive problem. 25% of working age people are on benefit, youth unemployment is twice the national average and loan sharking is probably the biggest industry. One constituent who was actually sectioned and resident at Highbury hospital managed to get a loan, for illegal drugs at 299%. In whose interest are the new arrangements?

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