People in Sheffield saving for Christmas have received a £5 bonus thanks to a money-lending scheme.
The scheme – run by the England Illegal Money Lending Team in partnership with Sheffield Council and Sheffield Credit Union – was funded with proceeds of crime money, taken from convicted loan sharks.
It has enabled 16 Credit Union members who had saved more than £200 by the end of October to receive a £5 bonus.
It is aimed at encouraging people to save in a bid to reduce the number of people turning to loan sharks.
Coun Julie Dore, council leader, said. “We are determined people do not fall into the dangerous hands of these illegal lenders.
“We know people sometimes find themselves in desperate situations, but loan sharks are never the way out.
“We are here to help people access the help they need during these difficult economic times.
“We would strongly encourage people to come to the Sheffield Credit Union on Commercial Street where they can get financial assistance and advice free of charge.”
Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Loan sharks are a scourge on our communities trapping people in spiralling debt.
“We urge people to always steer clear of these criminals and look to the safe and legal alternatives like Credit Unions.
“Just putting a little aside in savings can add up and make a huge difference.
“This is far better than borrowing from a loan shark, and paying back for many years to come.”