15 Sep 2014

Three-quarters of British parents want payday loan companies to be banned from broadcasting TV and radio adverts to children.

An online YouGov survey, commissioned by The Children’s Society, found that 74% of parents across the country want a ban on payday loan adverts from airing on TV and radio before the 9pm watershed. The figures are contained in a new report, Playday not Payday: Protecting children from irresponsible payday loan advertising, published by The Children’s Society today.

Payday loan companies provide short-term cash advances at annual interest rates in excess of 6000%, which can plunge families into problem debt. Despite this, children are routinely exposed to adverts for payday loan companies.

An online YouGov survey of children aged 13-17 found almost three quarters (72%) had seen or heard an advert for payday loans in the last seven days.

The name recognition of payday loan firms among teenagers is extremely high, with 93% knowing at least one of eight top payday loan companies. More than half of children (55%) were able to recognise at least three lenders.

One third (34%) of children surveyed found payday loan adverts to be fun, tempting or exciting – and this group were significantly more likely to say they would consider using a payday loan in the future.

Meanwhile one third (34%) of parents surveyed online by YouGov believe payday lenders’ adverts deliberately target children. And more than one quarter (27%) think the companies put pressure on children to pester their parents to borrow money.

It follows research by Ofcom last December that showed the number of payday loan adverts on television had increased by more than 20 times over the past four years to 397,000. The research found more than half (55%) of all payday loans adverts on TV were broadcast in the daytime schedule before 5pm.

The Children’s Society – through its Debt Trap campaign – is calling for restrictions on loan advertising to join those already in place to protect children from adverts for gambling, alcohol, tobacco and junk food.

In particular, the charity is urging the Government to amend the Consumer Rights Bill to ban payday loan advertisements shown on television and radio before the 9pm watershed.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: 'Through our front-line work we see first-hand the devastating impact of debt on children's lives. We know it’s become a daily battle for families to pay the bills, meet the mortgage or rent payments, and find money for food or other basics. One setback or even a simple mistake can lead to a spiral of debt.

'Right now children are being exposed to a barrage of payday loan adverts, which put even more pressure on families struggling to make ends meet and to provide the very basics for their children. That’s why the law should be changed to ban these ads from TV and radio before the 9pm watershed.

'It is crucial that children learn about borrowing and money from their school and family - not from irresponsible payday loan advertising. A significant majority of parents back a ban and it’s now time for the Government to act.'

A report earlier this year by The Children’s Society and StepChange Debt Charity, The Debt Trap: Exposing the impact of problem debt on children, showed how family debt causes children to suffer from worry and anxiety, experience bullying and miss out on essentials.

A survey commissioned for the report found almost two and a half million children across the country live in families owing a total of £4.8bn in bills and loans. It also found that more than half of all 10 to 17-year olds see payday loan adverts “often” or “all the time”.

The Children’s Society’s Debt Trap campaign aims to expose the damage debt does to children and to take the pressure off families who are struggling to make ends meet.

Media contact

For more information, please call 020 7841 4423 or email media@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to editor

  • All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. 
  • Parents of children aged 18 or under: Sample size was 1,065 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 3rd - 5th September 2014. The figures have been weighted and are representative of GB parents of children aged 18 or under.
  • Children aged 13-17: Sample size was 680. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29th  August - 3rd September 2014. The figures have been weighted and are representative of GB children aged 13 – 17.
  • Both surveys were carried out online.
  • Findings about children’s attitudes to payday loan adverts are based on a calculation conducted by The Children’s Society, based on the YouGov figures.
  • More information about Ofcom’s research highlighting an increase in TV ads for payday loan companies is available on the Ofcom website.
  • Find out more about The Children’s Society’s Debt Trap campaign.
  • The Children’s Society has helped change children’s stories for over a century. We expose injustice and address hard truths, tackling child poverty and neglect head-on. We fight for change based on the experiences of every child we work with and the solid evidence we gather. Through our campaigning, commitment and care, we are determined to give every child in this country the greatest possible chance in life.