Reading Borough Council will ban all adverts from so-called ‘pay day loan’ firms on its property as part of a new advertising and sponsorship policy it is set to adopt.
Advertising for betting or gambling services, alcohol, tobacco and adult content would also be banned under the proposed new policy, which outlines what sort of adverts the Council will accept on it’s sites in the future.
If agreed, the banning of advertising by legal pay day loan companies - who target the vulnerable by charging exorbitant rates of interest on short term loans – will deliver on a pledge made by Council Leader Jo Lovelock as part of last week’s ‘Tackling Poverty’ event at the Town Hall.
Reading Borough Council has a number of assets across the borough where it accepts adverts. These include roundabouts, street lights, vehicles and the Council’s website, as well as publications and events. Before now no definitive policy was in place to detail what is and is not acceptable. The Advertising and Sponsorship Policy being proposed contains a number of general guidelines which will determine what can and cannot be advertised on Council property.
Under the policy, any advertising or sponsorship on Council assets would have to adhere to a number of basic principles. These are:
• Legal, decent, honest and truthful
• Created with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society
• In line with the principles of fair competition
If accepted at a meeting of the Council’s Policy Committee on Monday December 2nd, the policy will be used to govern all future advertising and sponsorship activity of the Council.
Reading Borough Council Leader Jo Lovelock said:
“At a time of hardship for a great many people in Reading, it is only right that the Council sets an example by refusing by allow these so-called pay day loan firms to advertise on our property. Whilst these companies are legal, we also know that they target the vulnerable and those who are struggling to make ends meet, by offering them short terms loans at staggering rates of interest. When this starts to happen month after month, families can find themselves in real trouble.
“Reading, like every Council, has seen its budget significantly cut over the last few years. It would be very easy for us to generate income by allowing anyone to advertise on Council property. But we have a moral responsibility to residents especially when, in my opinion, the product being advertised is not in people’s best interests.
“At last week’s Tackling Poverty event we heard how one in five children in Reading are now living in poverty and that there are nearly 19,000 people in Reading who are losing more than £1,600 a year from their household income as result of welfare reforms. Many of these people are working people whose wages are so low that they have to claim some benefit in order to keep a roof over their head. These are the people we are looking to protect and I’m pleased that, if agreed next week, the new policy will become the first of the Council’s ‘Tackling Poverty’ pledges we can deliver on.”
The proposed Council advertising and sponsorship policy aims to strikes the right balance between protecting the Council’s reputation and encouraging advertisers and sponsors.
The policy makes it clear that a number of organisations and products may be excluded from advertising on Council assets. It also makes clear it will not take a 'white listing' approach (i.e. defining permitted advertising) but will instead assume that advertising is permitted unless it falls into a number of prohibited categories.
The full report to Policy Committee on December 2 can be found at http://www.reading.gov.uk/meetings/details/3605/ (Item 8).