7 Oct 2015

Adverts for payday loans could be banned from children’s television under plans being considered by Britain’s advertising watchdog, following a campaign by The Children’s Society.

The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) has today published a consultation setting out options to prevent payday loan firms from advertising at times when children are likely to be watching.

The consideration of a ban to prevent under-18s from being exposed to payday loan adverts marks significant progress for The Children’s Society’s Playday not Payday campaign to stop children being exposed to payday loan adverts on television.

BCAP’s consultation, which will run for 10 weeks, sets out three options:
• A ban on broadcasting payday loan adverts during programmes “likely to appeal” to under-18s. This would bring regulations in line with those for gambling adverts.
• A ban on broadcasting payday loan adverts during programmes “likely to appeal” to under-16s. This would bring regulations in line with those for junk food adverts.
• Do nothing.

The regulator’s consideration of tougher scheduling rules comes after the previous Government failed to amend laws on payday loan advertising in the last Parliament, but instructed advertising watchdogs to investigate in response to thousands of representations from the public.

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

In a survey carried out last year for The Children’s Society, three-quarters of British parents (74%) said they wanted payday loan companies to be banned from broadcasting TV and radio adverts to children.

Research by the charity found that one in three children aged 10 to 17 sees payday loan adverts regularly. Evidence shows that 14% of parents hear their children repeat payday loan slogans and have been pestered to take out a payday loan.

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.

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

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: 'We are pleased that regulators appear to be listening to the many parents who share our concerns about the damaging impact of adverts for high-interest loans on their children.

'Commercials with singing satsumas, Christmas presents and catchy jingles make borrowing money seem easy and fun to children, which increases the pressure on parents to take out high-interest loans. Children should learn about borrowing and debt from their school and family, not from irresponsible payday loan advertising.

'As credit repayments take up a larger proportion of income, families can find themselves cutting back on essentials. Children living in families trapped by debt can suffer anxiety and bullying as a result of their family’s financial problems.

'BCAP’s consultation means that, for the first time, advertising regulators are seriously considering banning payday loan adverts during programmes children are likely to be watching. We urge as many people as possible to contribute to this debate to make sure the regulator acts.'

The Children’s Society is calling on concerned members of the public to join the campaign to protect children from payday loan adverts. For more information, and to take action, supporters can visit www.childrenssociety.org.uk/debt.

Media enquiries

For more information, please call 020 7841 4422 or email media@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to editor

• BCAP’s announcement launching the new consultation is available here: https://www.cap.org.uk/News-reports/Media-Centre/2015/BCAP-payday-loans-consultation.aspx#.VhT7XPlVhBc
• The Children’s Society’s report on the impact of payday loan advertising on children, published in 2014, is available here: Playday not Payday: Protecting children from irresponsible payday loan advertising,
• Find out more about The Children’s Society’s Debt Trap campaign here: http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-you-can-do/campaign-join/debt-trap-end-damage-children
• The Children’s Society is a national charity that runs local projects, helping children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, and have nowhere left to turn. We also campaign for changes to laws affecting children and young people, to stop the mistakes of the past being repeated in the future. Our supporters around the country fund our services and join our campaigns to show children and young people they are on their side. www.childrenssociety.org.uk