The vast majority of consumers believe payday loan companies should be banned from advertising anywhere in the UK, with even more supporting a ban on TV ads for the industry.
That is the key finding of a new YouGov survey, carried out for Channel 5, which is likely to increase the pressure on ministers to further crackdown on the controversial sector, worth an estimated £2bn in the UK.
It follows claims by MPs sitting on the Business Select Committee that the likes of Wonga, QuickQuid and Pounds to Pocket deliberately target children, giving them the idea that loans are “fun, easy and an appropriate way to access finance”.
The committee recently recommended a number of measures against the industry but stopped short of calling for a ban; the top five companies in the sector spent more than £36m on marketing in the 12 months to September 2013.
According to the YouGov/C5 poll, 70% of Britons were completely against all advertising from payday firms, while 80% would support a wholesale ban on TV ads and 84% would outlaw ads in commercial breaks before, during and after children’s television programmes.
The ad industry trade body, the Advertising Association, has consistently defended the companies’ right to promote the services, claiming interference in the market is “short-sighted”.
In response to the survey, Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “It is utterly irresponsible for payday lenders to target children and people out of work with adverts that mask the difficulties payday loans can cause.”
“The industry claims it only lends to people who can afford to repay loans, but Citizens Advice figures highlight that 61% of loans come without proper checks and three in four people struggle to pay back loans.”
She added: “In order to protect consumers, the payday loan industry needs to behave fairly and responsibly, and compete on price instead of speed of loans. A ban on advertising to children and people without a job would stop payday loans appearing as the norm and could stem the tide of people on limited incomes struggling with mountainous debt caused by payday loans.”
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