The Star Says: Advice is key to new scheme’s success

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Money difficulties for individuals or families are nothing new but it is still an area of huge concern for those who are forced to borrow cash to make ends meet.

Almost since time began there have been people and companies willing to exploit the less well off by charging exorbitant interest rates.

Yes, business is business – and there is the argument that people shouldn’t sign up if they can’t afford the repayments – but sadly life isn’t as black and white as that and some fall into a spiral of debt from which they may never recover.

It is hardly ‘good’ news when a new money lender appears on the scene but today, hopefully, there will be a better option for those that need the service.

Sheffield Money will opens its doors this morning after city leaders united to find a way to provide low-cost finance.

The scheme – which has been dubbed the first of its kind in the UK – aims to deter Sheffield residents from using firms which ‘exploit’ them by offering sky high repayment rates.

The lender is backed by Sheffield City Council and the South Yorkshire Housing Association.

Research has said some 50,000 Sheffield residents have accessed payday lenders and rent-to-own stores.

This is a huge figure and demonstrates just how much we rely on loans and credit to make our purchases and pay our bills.

We hear plenty about the ‘cost of living’.

The recession was long and deep and businesses are only just beginning to feel confident to invest in the future. Those on benefits have also felt the squeeze.

It is right that the Government looks after every penny of taxpayers’ money – no one should get anything above what they’re entitled – but there’s no doubt that life has been made a lot tougher than it was.

Some may say this is a good thing. Those than can work, should work. We’d all agree with that sentiment.

Like everything, though, there are always shades of grey and so one person’s situation may be far different to another’s even if – on the face of it – they seem to be in similar circumstances.

We wish Sheffield Money well in its aims and objectives. The most important service it can offer would be one of advice and the lending of money would only be a very last resort.

True success for the scheme would be the day that Sheffield Money has to close its doors for good through a lack of demand.