Primary school pupils up and down the country are set to learn about the
dangers of illegal money lenders thanks to a new partnership between
Experian and the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT).
Unlicensed lenders continue to prey on vulnerable families and often resort to intimidation and violence if repayments are missed. Over the last ten years the IMLT, run by Trading Standards, has successfully prosecuted more than 329 ‘loans sharks’ and helped nearly 25,000 victims.
There are concerns that tighter restrictions on legal short-term lending might encourage more families to resort to loan sharks. To help prevent that, Experian and the IMLT have teamed up to tackle the issue in classrooms, by working together with pupils and teachers to develop new lessons. The new resources form an extra module of valuesmoneyandme.co.uk, a free primary school resource quality marked by financial education charity pfeg (Personal Finance Education Group, part of Young Enterprise) and launched by Experian.
Although financial education became a compulsory part of the secondary-school curriculum in England last year, some pupils are still missing out. Only around half of secondary schools have to follow the national curriculum – academies and free schools, for example, are exempt. Financial education is even rarer in primary schools. Both the IMLT and Experian firmly believe that all pupils should explore money issues in class, starting as early as possible.
University of Cambridge research commissioned by the Money Advice Service suggests that by the age of seven many children have already developed their attitudes and values towards money, and these are likely to stay with them for life. Other research demonstrates that children are likely to get their first mobile phone by the age of eight and begin online shopping by the age of 10.
Valuesmoneyandme.co.uk helps pupils aged 5-11 explore the practical and emotional aspects of money in a fun and engaging way through the dilemmas faced by the residents of the fictitious Pride Place. Simple to use, the resource is made up of a series of interactive storybooks with supporting quizzes and teacher materials. The new module ‘Do You Need It?’ examines the cash-strapped Deacon family’s options when their TV breaks down.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team in England, commented:
”We’re delighted to join forces with Experian to help tackle this important issue. Through the work we do, prosecuting loan sharks and supporting the victims, we witness the devastating impact of illegal money lending all too often. The more we can do to educate families about the perils of loan sharks the fewer are likely to fall into the trap.”
Chris Clark, Managing Director of Experian UK&I, commented:
“We want to give young people a head start in life by educating them about money. Through this partnership with the Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Team we’ve enhanced our financial education resource valuesmoneyandme.co.uk with new content to tackle this important issue. Helping people of all ages make informed and successful decisions about money sits right at the heart of Experian’s business. We hope these new materials help many children and their families.”
After prosecuting a loan shark the IMLT goes through the courts under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) and removes any money that has been illegally gained, including assets such as houses and cars. The IMLT then uses this money to raise awareness of loan sharks, including via work in schools.
In January 2014 the IMLT used POCA funds to develop and launch a set of loan shark-related lesson plans which were distributed to over 4,500 primary and secondary schools in England. The plans were designed by teachers for teachers and, like valuesmoneyandme.co.uk, awarded a pfeg quality mark. The secondary school resource provides students with advice on the dangers of borrowing money including a DVD that includes interviews with victims. Copies of both lesson plans can be downloaded from www.birmingham.gov.uk/stoploansharks.
(Source - Experian/National Trading Standards News release)