MUCH indignation today on the apparent intention of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to allow the charging of interest on Social Fund loans.
The minister responsible, Kitty Ussher, denied this was the case, but inevitably her denial was carried on the BBC site near the end of the story, after various rent-a-quotes had got their tuppenceworth in first.
The good news is that there does seem to be a move towards encouraging more people on benefit to use credit unions.
I first became a member of a credit union in 1993. These really are fantastic organisations, which encourage you to save as well as borrow. The amount you’re allowed to borrow depends on how much you’ve already saved, and when your repayments on a loan are calculated, they include an amount that continues to be added to your “shares”, or savings, during your loan term so that, by the the time you’ve paid it off, you have more savings than when you took out the loan. And the rate of interest on loans is tiny compared with most banks.
It’s all good.
So although the headlines today are all about how this evil “Ebenezer Scrooge” government is trying its best to force the poorest in society into the workhouse, I suspect all they’re doing is encouraging Bob Cratchit to consider cheaper, more responsible methods of borrowing.
PS: As I was writing this post and looking up the correct spelling of “Ebenezer” on the web, I was reminded of the last time I had to write it. I was working at the Paisley Daily Express and had to write an advertising blurb for a local store which sold electrical items. The owner was part of that generation which still considered it acceptable to use people’s initial rather than full name in print. I didn’t realise this, so when I asked him what the “E” stood for, he said: “‘E’ as in ‘Ebenezer’…” So, naturally, I assumed his Christian name was Ebenezer, which is how it appeared in the next day’s edition. Turns out his name was Edward. Why couldn’t he just have told me that?
A complaint was subsequently made and I was not invited to write articles for this shop again.