Loan sharks fear as lenders flee High Street: ‘Bank of Dave’ boss warns the vulnerable are at risk

The self-made millionaire who inspired the Netflix film Bank of Dave has warned loan sharks are likely to move in as big banks abandon cash-strapped customers.

Dave Fishwick set up Burnley Savings and Loans during the financial crisis because he was fed up that businesses could not get funding for the vans and minibuses he sold.

Now, 15 years on, he says banks are still up to their old tricks – turning down loan applications, shutting branches, and leaving borrowers at the mercy of high-cost lenders.

‘They are still doing exactly what they did before,’ he told the Daily Mail. He fears the banks are leaving the door open for payday lenders to return by not looking after people who need it most.

‘Banks are doing a runner. There’s going to be very, very few left on the High Street. And then I foresee that the loan sharks will move back in.’ If anything, things are even worse now than during the financial crisis, he added.

Fishwick has recently lent money to a mother who needed £90 to buy formula milk to feed her baby. He also donated a year’s supply of breakfast to a school in Colne, Lancashire, after its headmistress wrote to him because pupils were coming to lessons ‘starving’.

‘It’s not like people are trying to buy a fancy car,’ he added.

Around 7.1m, or one in seven people, are defined as potentially financially excluded – in other words, they would struggle to access the most affordable credit.

The cost of payday loans was capped in 2015 amid outrage over people being charged astronomical interest rates by high-cost credit firms which many struggled to pay back. It followed Fishwick’s award-winning programme The Loan Ranger, which he says played ‘a big part’ in getting disgraced payday lender Wonga shut down.

‘I just saw what their (Wonga’s) 5500 per cent APR (annual percentage rate) was doing to people.’

Wonga collapsed into administration in 2018. Around 200,000 customers still owed a total of £400m when it folded following a flood of compensation claims.

The law now limits the amount of interest and default fees that can be charged.

For example, someone taking out a loan for 30 days will pay no more than £24 in fees and charges per £100 borrowed.

But debt charities warned the squeeze on household incomes has left borrowers turning to high-cost lenders in increasing numbers.

Richard Lane, of StepChange, said: ‘A rise in high-cost credit lending is concerning as it suggests more people may be turning to credit to make ends meet.’

Fishwick’s community bank has lent more than £30m to individuals and businesses who had been turned down by High Street lenders. It is run on a not-for-profit basis.

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