Don’t fall prey to loan sharks this Christmas – help is available at the credit union

Published: Monday, December 5, 2022

With families struggling to make ends meet in the Cost of Living crisis and with Christmas just around the corner, the council’s cabinet member with responsibility for community safety is urging people not to fall prey to loan sharks.

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As household budgets are coming under immense pressure from rising fuel and food bills and the expense of Christmas to consider, people may be tempted to borrow money from unscrupulous lenders.

But Graeme Henderson, who is the council’s cabinet member with responsibility for community safety, is advising residents that there is an alternative that means they can steer clear of illegal money lenders.

Borough residents who need a loan to cover their costs can apply to a local credit union that provides a legal alternative to loan sharks and gives people access to affordable loans and secure savings.

The council helped set up this credit union so that people on low incomes who find themselves excluded from mainstream banks and credit companies can obtain a safe and ethical loan.

People can contact the London Plus Credit Union on (020) 7471 2620 or via email to Its website at also outlines the help and support on offer to Wandsworth residents.

Councillor Henderson said: “It’s very likely that unscrupulous lenders will try to cash in on the festive period as households struggle to cope with rising food, fuel and energy bills.

“These loan sharks are targeting vulnerable people seeking credit and trapping them into a cycle of debt with exorbitant interest rates and threats of violence.

“A report published by the Centre for Social Justice estimated that more than a million people nationwide could already be in debt to an illegal money lender with many borrowing cash to cover the cost of Christmas.

“These illicit back-street money lenders pose a serious threat to the desperate and vulnerable people they prey on. They trap their victims into spiralling levels of debt and in the more extreme cases will use intimidation, threats and even violence to force their victims to pay up. That is why it’s important we do everything we can to put a stop to their criminal activities.

“Here in Wandsworth if you are in need of a loan and aren’t able to borrow from a bank or building society, then you can apply to our local credit union. They will offer you an ethical and legitimate loan at an affordable price.”

If you are worried about a friend or family member being ripped off by an unregistered lender or loan shark, please report it by calling on 0300 555 2222 or reporting it online at All the information will be treated in confidence and you can remain anonymous.

The council is supporting local families facing hardship this winter with a £5m Cost-of-Living support scheme

Wandsworth’s support for residents includes:

• The setting up of a Wandsworth Warm Spaces scheme offering places of sanctuary to those struggling to heat their homes.

• Funding for organisations, projects and initiatives that support residents – including Wandsworth Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

• A £1m boost for the Wandsworth Discretionary Social Fund.

• All eligible households receiving a one-off Winter Cost of Living Payment of up to £150.

• A School Uniform Support Scheme to help lower income families buy new school uniforms when their children transition to their next school.

• An online Cost of Living Hub providing information on grants to help with fuel bills, advice on reducing bills, information on benefits and what to do in a crisis, help available for families, where to get mental health support and links to community organisations and charities that can help.

Capacity Building Grants to fund community-based programmes like Waste Not Want Not Battersea and CREW Energy that provide hot meals, advice on cutting fuel costs, give free legal advice, provide warm spaces, offer mental health support and more.

• Funding for South West London Energy Advice Partnership to respond to demand for energy efficiency advice, support and outreach. This will enable 300 extra home visits including minor energy efficiency improvements, plus energy advice via outreach & telephone. 

To find out more about how the council can help residents during the winter months and beyond, please visit our Cost of Living hub.