A CAMPAIGN against pay day loan companies will be launched in the region this weekend.
Unions, debt support groups and Citizens Advice Bureaux hope that Sharkstoppers will highlight the impact high-interest or pay day lenders are having.
The campaign will get underway with an event at Grey’s Monument in Newcastle city centre on Sunday (February 24) from 11.30am to 1.30pm.
The event will give people information about the local services who can help with money advice and the alternative lenders available, such as credit unions.
The campaigners say that the pay day loans sector is worth about £8.5bn and growing.
The Government has said it accepts the need to cap the cost of credit.
Kevin Rowan, Northern TUC Regional Secretary, said: “The North-East is being hit hard by the Coalition’s austerity measures.
“This region has the lowest household incomes in the UK. With one in four workers employed in the public sector our whole regional economy has been shaken by cuts, redundancies and pay freezes.
“We have the highest unemployment rate in the UK but even those that are in work are increasingly struggling to make their wages last the month.
“We need to regulate this sector and put a sensible cap on the currently exorbitant rates some pay day loan lenders charge.”
The issue of pay day loan companies has been highlighted over the last year by a series of high profile North-East figures, including the former Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby, now the Archbishop of Canterbury.
He condemned money lenders who charge several thousand per cent interest as "morally wrong".
Alison Baxter, regional manager of FINCAN (Financial Inclusion and Capability North East), said: “FINCAN supports Sharkstoppers because it is about campaigning for fairness for consumers who need to borrow money but can’t get it from somewhere like a bank.
“If your income is already being squeezed, using high cost credit will squeeze your budget tighter but that is the only choice for a lot of people in our communities.
“We want to see better choices on offer.
"But Sharkstoppers is also about letting people know they can get help from places such as CAB and credit unions.
“We want this to be the first of many events which will help raise awareness and influence change.”