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The Northern Ireland Executive Programme to Tackle Paramilitary Activity, Criminality and Organised Crime launched its latest ‘Ending the Harm’ public awareness campaign, focusing on how paramilitary gangs use illegal money lending as a means to control and exploit vulnerable people.

Siobhán has been using social media to highlight the findings in the Consortium’s research paper Making Ends Meet which contained an example of paramilitary lending.  We have used the findings and recommendations in this report to call on local Government to look at the reasons behind this type of illegal lending.  Those on the lowest incomes on social security and in low paid work are struggling to make ends meet because the income from benefits and low paid work isn’t enough to cover the basics.

Siobhán stressed that things like welfare mitigations, the uplift to Universal Credit, the Universal Credit Contingency Fund, greater access to Discretionary Support and affordable credit for low-income families to avoid reliance on high-cost lending is vitally important.  If these supports were better there wouldn’t be the same need for these illegal lending.  Remove the need for this type of lending and you can go some way to removing the existence of these illegal loan sharks.

The Making Ends Meet research paper and associated summary is available here.