You Decide: Greed Or Stupidity?
And if the latter, why wasn’t the person who gave the loan summarily fired?
Could this be the craziest loan in credit-crunched Britain? In what a leading voluntary sector debt expert calls “one of the most irresponsible loans I have ever seen from a mainstream lender,” an 18-year-old single mother living on state benefits was handed £5,000 for cosmetic surgery by one of the biggest high street banks.
And when she had difficulty meeting repayments NatWest lent her yet more money instead of suggesting an advice agency such as National Debtline or Citizens Advice.
It. Just. Gets. Even. Worse.
“I told NatWest I wanted £4,000 for a nose job. I said I was on income support. The bank worker gave me £5,000 because monthly payments would be lower than on £4,000.”
Roma was offered a five-year £5,000 loan at 10.8% interest with monthly repayments around £33 a week. Had the bank lent her £4,000, the interest rate would have been more than 15%.
“I get around £110 a week for Paradis and me, plus I get help with my rent. It’s not a lot but with the baby still very small, I can’t get a job to earn any more. Most of what I could get would be at minimum wage, so I wouldn’t be much better off once my benefits were stopped,” says Roma, who left school at 16 with few qualifications.
She had the operation and was happy with her new nose. With the £1,400 left, she bought hair extensions and spent most of the rest on Christmas presents. “I paid NatWest for the first couple of months with some of the left-over money. But then I stopped as soon as I ran out of money. The bank started to write to me and phone me. I told them I was broke. I was expecting to be told off but it lent me another £1,000. I was really surprised because a friend, who’s also a single mum, didn’t get anything when she asked.”
She then owed £6,000 repayable at £172 a month over five years, which made a total of £10,320. She has never made a single payment towards this. “After my rent and TV licence, I have about £400 a month to live on. I can’t look after Paradis and pay the bank.”
Emphasis added by me.
How many other screwball loans like this are out there?