Access to payday loan websites has been blocked from all 10,000 Nottinghamshire County Council computers, laptops and other devices with immediate effect.
The move, which also covers computers accessible to the public in the County’s 60 libraries, is aimed at protecting people from mounting up unsustainable debts - especially with Christmas approaching.
In total, 80 payday loan company websites have had access from Council computers removed. More than 8,000 employees use Council computers every day, with Nottinghamshire library visitors clocking up nearly 290,000 hours online in the last year.
Other online content to be blocked includes websites promoting criminal activity and weapons, pornography, hate speeches and illegal file sharing.
The Financial Conduct Authority is currently drawing up plans to cap the amount lenders are allowed to charge in interest for loans. But in the meantime, annual interest rates of up to 5,000% are being charged by some firms.
Coun Alan Rhodes, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “The spiralling cost of living is hitting people hard, with increasing numbers taking desperate action to see them through to payday.
“With the arrival of colder weather and Christmas approaching, the pressure on household budgets is at its greatest, meaning people are more likely to resort to the offer of quick cash from payday loan firms. Unfortunately a lot of the loans are given without proper checks on a person’s ability to pay and are laden with unfair charges and penalties.
“Sadly, almost daily, I hear about more Nottinghamshire residents who have turned to payday lenders, only to find themselves in a mountain of debt they have no way out of within just a few months.
“By blocking access to these sites, we hope we can limit the number of people tempted to turn to these lenders to pay for Christmas, only to be left with debt they are trapped in for the whole of the new year and beyond.”
Your local Nottinghamshire Citizens Advice Bureau can provide benefits and debt advice if you are thinking about taking out or already have a payday loan.
Further inforation is available online at www.nottinghamshireadvicenetwork.org.uk or by calling:
0844 848 7997 for Rushcliffe, Gedling and Nottingham City
0844 856 3411 for Mansfield, Ashfield, Bassetlaw and Newark and Sherwood
0844 499 4149 for Broxtowe
Nottingham Credit Union provides low cost loans and current accounts. Further information is available at www.nottinghamcu.co.uk or by calling 0115 828 3121.