The brutality loan sharks visit on their desperate clients who fail to pay is laid bare in tonight’s shocking episode of Skint Britain: Friends Without Benefits.
While the Channel 4 show has previously featured Hartlepool residents struggling to deal with Universal Credit, tonight’s episode focuses on those that benefit – loan sharks.
One distressing scene, which aired on TV tonight, showed two illegal money lenders circling the streets before pouncing on a man who had failed to pay his debts and beating him up – before demanding more money.
‘The reason you got a kicking there was for p*** taking,’ one tells him. ‘But I put a f****** stop to that. You got a slap and that was it. You would have been seriously hurt. And keep your f***** mouth shut about this as well.’
The two men, who say that business is booming as people struggle to get by on the monthly payment, reveal that they see themselves as a ‘necessary evil.’
‘I was making plenty of money but since universal credit my business is through the roof,’ says one, whose identity is kept hidden.
‘I see myself as a necessary evil to help civilians, mothers and law-abiding people in desperate need of money. It’s a jungle. It’s survival.’
Tonight’s episode of Skint Britain focuses on the booming business of loan sharks – and reveals how far they are willing to go to get the money they’re owed
Explaining his act of violence, the loan shark says of the victim: ‘He’s not a bad guy. He was just in a bad situation. It’s like cause and effect.
‘I don’t want to commit violence. It’s the last thing I want to do. Hurting people doesn’t make you money.’
Meanwhile, Sophie, who is in her twenties and has epilepsy and ADHD, has been unable to get through the application process for Universal Credit and scrapes by on money she makes selling items bought from a charity shop.
She was managing to get through each day until she had a bill for £315 after her front and back doors were kicked down by eight men.
Billy and his mother Julie have run their letting agency in Hartlepool for 20 years, but since the introduction of Universal Credit, they have seen rent arrears go through the roof.
Sophie (above) who has epilepsy and ADHD, reveals she scrapes by on money she makes selling items she has bought from a charity shop
‘They turned up in balaclavas and started beating us up,’ she explains. ‘They had knifes in their hand, baseball bats and said if I pressed charges he’d kill me.
‘And because I never pressed charge I have to pay for the door.’
When her money runs out and she loses her home, she’s forced to sofa surf and considers bedding down with her best friend Liam, who is also homeless and living in a tent on the edge of town.
The twenty-something year old was managing to scrape by until she had a bill for £315 after her front and back doors were kicked down by eight men. ‘They turned up in balaclavas and started beating us up,’ she explains. Above, she checks out the tent that her best friend Liam lives in
When Sophie’s money runs out and she loses her home, she’s forced to sofa surf and could eventually end up bedding down Liam
‘We have a fire on the night to keep the lights going and sometimes you hear the odd foxes,’ she explains. ‘It’s like a sheeted house. But I just want own life back where I’ve got my own house, organisation and income.’
However, Billy and his mother have run their letting agency in Hartlepool for 20 years and see a different side to things.
Since the introduction of Universal Credit, which pays rent directly to the tenant instead of the landlord, they have seen rent arrears go through the roof. Every time tenants get behind it’s the letting agents and landlords who take the hit.
In tonight’s episode of Skint Britain, Billy knocks on the door of a tenant who owes nine months rent – but she refuses to open the door
Taking matter into his own hands, landlord Billy rings the universal credit hotline with his concerns. ‘These people are in the pub now and spending all the money. They haven’t paid me for nine months. They’ve ripped us all off. Me, you and the tax payer,’ he says
In tonight’s episode, Billy and Julie are shocked to discover that they have 18 tenants on universal credit and 10 on arrears
‘We have 18 tenants on universal credit and 10 on arrears,’ says Billy in tonight’s episode. ‘One tenant is nine months behind on her rent, won’t answer the door and is still being sent all of the rent money. She now owes £3,336.19 and she’ll soon be given another payment.’
Ringing the Universal Credit hotline with his concerns, he continues: ‘The landlord’s house is getting repossessed. He’s a school teacher and can’t pay his mortgage.
‘Meanwhile, these people are in the pub now and spending all the money. They haven’t paid me for nine months. They’ve ripped us all off. Me, you and the tax payer.’
Skint Britain: Friends Without Benefits, airs 9pm tonight