McDonald calls for cap on moneylender rates amid concern over British firm

A cap on moneylender rates may be examined after concerns were raised about an authorised British firm asking borrowers here to pay back interest of almost 50% on loans.

Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald said the rate charged by Amigo was "state-sponsored robbery" especially for anxious families in the run up to Christmas.

Money lenders were “getting rich on the back of people” trying to provide for their families, the party leader told the Dail.

Amigo Loans will start offering loans here in early 2019 at an interest rate of almost 50%. The UK money lender has received a license to operate here by the Central Bank. Amigo will offer loans to “people with bad credit,” reports said.

Amigo says it requires loans to have a guarantor, such as friends or family. It is understood that in Britain, the firm allows people with bad credit history to access loans of up to £10,000 within 24 hours.

Ms McDonald says there was no excuse the state could stand over sanctioning the actions of such firms. The licensing of them was “nothing short of disgraceful”, she argued, and there was a need for a cap.

“For so many families, there is no alternative bar these vultures,” she told the Dail chamber.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar agreed that the rate was high and said borrowers should try and seek alternatives such as low-cost loans through credit unions.

Legislation could be examined, he conceded, but there was also the issue of restricting people's freedom to borrow.

“Perhaps we need to do that,” he said, adding that it might be necessary to “get the balance right” when it came to restricting the freedom of choice of people in order to protect themselves.

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