Belfast Telegraph

Payday loans and the dreaded tax returns

David Fishwick, famous for the Bank of Dave TV programme, has a new series out called Dave: Loan Ranger, this time looking at the world of payday lending.

The programme was originally planned for the autumn but has been mired in legal wrangling due to the clearly negative stance David takes towards payday lending.

His main thesis is that these lenders are often sourced abroad and in effect, what we are allowing to happen is that low-income people in Britain, desperate for credit, are handing over huge sums – in the billions of pounds – in high interest and high charges.

In effect, an outflow of cash from our poorest to the world's richest. Some of the most powerful moments in the series are of David meeting with community leaders who talk about what they are seeing on the ground.

All too many of our high streets are made up of the 'unholy trinity' of the bookies, cheap pub and payday lender. This isn't just about high interest rates or 'transparency', it is about social cohesion, and Dave's programme reminds us of that.

* Every year I write a little reminder over the upcoming self-assessment tax deadline. Yet each year, close to a million people miss it and trigger an automatic fine. More may find themselves fined this year.

Some 110,000 higher-earning parents who receive child benefit payments face a fine if they fail to register for, and return, their tax self-assessment forms. Many may not be aware they have to go through this rigmarole. Some, who enjoy self-employed income, will be used to self-assessment, but there will be many earning PAYE who have never had to go down the self-assessment route.

It seems a wholly over-complex way to ensure fairness in the payment of child benefit, reminding me of the clunking bureaucracy in play in the tax credit system. Slowly but surely more and more of us are being dragged into self-assessment.

Belfast Telegraph