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Worcester MP hails extra £3.6m towards helping those drowning in debt
WORCESTER'S MP is today toasting a big victory in the payday loans saga - after an extra £3.6 million was found to help people drowning in debt.
The national Money Advice Service, a Government-backed independent body for people struggling with cash problems, has massively increased its budget after pressure from Robin Walker.
It means the service, which is funded directly by the payday lending firms, now has £38.1 million from April 2015.
Mr Walker sits on parliament's business, innovation and skills select committee and last year led the charge for more investment.
He was praised by Chancellor George Osborne for his role in persuading Government to look at the industry more carefully, after impassioned speeches in the commons.
All MPs have now been sent a letter confirming the extra funds, which goes towards free, impartial debt advice.
Last year the Financial Conduct Authority said they wanted to keep the funding for the advice service flat, but has since changed tack.
Mr Walker said: "This is really great news.
"I have long believed high cost lenders need 'reining in' but also that they should pay more towards solving the debt problems they too often generate. "I am very grateful to the MPs of all parties who supported my campaign and my debate in parliament.
"It seems that we have together secured a big step in the right direction."
The funding also means selected charities and third sector bodies like the Citizens Advice Bureau are getting extra funding for debt advice of at least 10 per cent next year.
It follows a call by Mr Walker for the 'annual levy' payday lenders give to the FCA to be earmarked to help the free debt advice sector.
Mr Walker added: "This has been secured at no cost to the taxpayer.
"I will keep campaigning for a tough approach to payday lenders and I still think there is a potential for an even greater levy on their charges but this announcement marks real progress."
In recent years unease over payday lenders has grown in the UK, with some repayment rates 1,000 per cent or more.
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