Community groups in Lichfield and Burntwood are being invited to apply for funding for projects that help raise awareness of the risks of loan sharks.
Grants of up to £5,000 are being made available from the Proceeds of Crime Act via the England Illegal Money Lending Team.
Tony Shore, trading standards manager at Staffordshire County Council, which is supporting the scheme, said:
“Loan sharking is a terrible crime that affects many of our communities and we work closely with the Illegal Money Lending Team and the police to tackle it.
“Loan sharks usually prey on vulnerable residents. They will charge extortionate interest rates and often intimidate, threaten and trap victims in a cycle of fear and violence.
“These criminals may seem friendly at first but borrowing from them can have serious consequences.
“A big part of our work is to raise awareness of the dangers and risks of using such lenders but community groups can play their part too by sharing information and making sure people don’t fall into the trap.
“I’d encourage groups with ideas and projects that could help reduce this type of crime and make our neighbourhoods safer places to apply for the funding.”Tony Shore, Staffordshire County Council
Projects previously funded have included graffiti murals, art therapy sessions for vulnerable adults and drama performances in schools, highlighting the dangers of dealing with loan sharks.
Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said:
“We encourage groups to come forward and apply for funding to help stamp out illegal money lenders.
“The money seized through the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) is reinvested back into communities through projects aimed at tackling loan sharks and supporting victims.
“We are very much aware of the devastating impact loan sharks have on families and communities and we’re determined to do all we can to eradicate them.
“Our financial investigators have continued to ensure that loan sharks don’t profit from their crimes and are not able to continue to operate during the coronavirus pandemic.”Tony Quigley, England Illegal Money Lending Team
The closing date for applications is 30th June. More details on how to apply are available online.