PAYDAY Loan companies are one of the fastest growing industries in the country, and they have made their heady profits from exploiting people in our community who are struggling financially with everyday living. Citizens Advice Scotland recently published a report which showed that 75 per cent of people that take out payday loans in Scotland are in full-time work. The majority are under 35 years old and nearly a third own their own homes. So this is a problem that is not just affecting people on benefits or on very low incomes, it is affecting a substantial section of our population.

There are currently five pay day loan companies operating in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh and Lomond, charging exorbitant rates of interest, in some cases with an APR of 3,800 per cent for people to borrow money for short periods of time.

The expression daylight robbery comes to mind.

People are taking these loans out to pay for the basics - food, gas and electricity bills, and their rent.

This is simply not good enough in the 21st century. Times are tough for people as they are hit by the ConDem Government's austerity measures and, with 30 people chasing every vacancy in the area, it is clear that pay day loan companies are making their fortune from the misery of others.

In a bid to tackle this problem and to let people know about the dangers of short term loans at high interest rates, I, along with my colleague Kez Dugdale MSP, launched the Debtbusters campaign in Dumbarton.

Joined by representatives from Dumbarton Credit Union, West Dunbartonshire Citizens Advice Bureau and community groups from across the area, we agreed to campaign to: 1) Crack down on payday loan lenders street by street 2) Promote Credit Unions and the role they play in offering credible alternatives 3) Change the law to improve the debt-relief services the Government offer We need tighter laws to stop people getting into debt from these quick cash incentives that look wonderful on paper but in reality end up costing people up to 3000% more than what they borrowed.

And my colleague, Gemma Doyle MP, will help to pursue this at Westminster.

West Dunbartonshire Council has already stamped out the advertising of pay day loans to employees by enforcing an internet ban on all short term loan websites.

This is a positive step in the right direction. But we need to do more.

I will challenge the Scottish Government to ban planning permission for any further pay day loan shops on our high streets or to look at a responsible licensing scheme so we can curb the worst excesses of these companies.

This issue is too important for the Scottish Government to ignore.

There are hundreds of residents across the area who have used these sites and are now facing huge debt problems for the foreseeable future.

If you are struggling with debt, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or Credit Union for help and information.

But above all don't use pay day loan companies as you will end up in even bigger debt than before.