Derry people who are in debt are being urged to seek help from proper agencies and not resort to payday loans.
Mr Eastwood said that many families in the Derry area have been left with the burden and worry of debt after Christmas and warned that tighter regulation is essential if ordinary families are to be sheltered from the potential dangers of debt, particularly in relation to the practices surrounding payday loans.
"The last number of years have witnessed debt centred at the heart of the body politic. Be it banking debt, governmental debt or the supranational implications of the European debt crisis, the idea and impact of debt has lived large in this society and island. Amidst this overarching scenario, it is vital that the individualised issues of personal debt, effecting ordinary citizens, are not forgotten or overlooked.
"Problems associated with personal debt are particularly acute at this time of year. I have been approached by many families who are not only facing the burden of debt but the psychological stresses these inflict’.
"I would encourage anyone who finds themselves in this scenario to seek the advice of those experienced in dealing with debt issues. My own constituency office or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau are always willing and able to aid those in need of any help or advice’.
"From a governmental perspective however it is imperative that the practices of payday loans are more tightly regulated. The current system of licensing through the Office of Fair Trading is inadequate. The OFT has little powers of enforcement and its resources limit its reach over these financial enterprises’.
"In this age of austerity where the difficulties of access to credit have become commonplace, it is essential that strict regulation is imposed upon companies who seek to make profit from those most vulnerable in our society".