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NatWest lends single mum on benefits £5,000 for a nose job

May 6, 2008

As Mark Twain said “It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction.”

He would also probably have said that the whole world has gone stark raving mad once he had heard this little story…

In what one debt expert calls “one of the most irresponsible loans I have ever seen from a mainstream lender,” an 18-year-old single mum living on state benefits was given £5,000 for cosmetic surgery by one of the biggest high street banks.

No, we are not making this up!

And (funnily enough) when she had difficulty repaying her loan, NatWest lent her yet more money instead of suggesting an advice agency such as National Debtline.

If you are having debt trouble and are having problems making your repayments, you should speak free of charge to a debt adviser who can provide you with advice and solutions to help you resolve your debt and credit problems.

Single mum Roma Shears from Torquay was reading about nose remodelling in a celebrity magazine while taking a break from looking after her daughter Paradis and thought it would be a good idea:

“My family and friends said my nose was fine but I had been teased about my appearance at school. The cost was £3,600 in a local private clinic,” says Roma.

“I’ve no savings; I’m on benefits. So a friend said to try the bank and borrow the cash. My account is at NatWest, so I went there but I didn’t think I would get a loan.” she said. “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.”

She was then given a 5 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%.

Roma, who left school at 16 with few qualifications said:

“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.”

She went ahead with the operation and was very happy with her new nose. With the £1,400 left over, she bought hair extensions and spent most of the rest on Christmas presents.

Roma then did her best to explain the situation to NatWest:

“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 5 years, which made a total of £10,320, an amount she has never made a single payment towards.

“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.” she explained.

Roma’s case is just one of many used to describe the alleged “irresponsible lending” by banks which have allowed personal debts to reach unsustainable levels.

NatWest defended their decision to lend Roma the money saying:

“Before agreeing, Miss Shears was made fully aware of the monthly repayments and the loan was offered following credit scoring, credit reference enquiries and affordability tests. “There has never been any suggestion in her actions, or behaviour, that she was incapable of managing her financial affairs and our staff would only proceed if they were satisfied the customer fully understood any commitment they were entering into.”

Damon Gibbons of Debt on our Doorstep says: “References to credit scoring and affordability mean little unless you know the criteria. Any reasonable enquiries would show she could have difficulties.”

In addition, a leading debt adviser adds:

“I would challenge the bank because typical 18-year-olds do not have a great degree of financial literacy. This was a non-essential loan which should not have been made’ let alone a top-up loan as soon as she was in trouble. The interest should be frozen and she should negotiate a small monthly payment.”

NatWest says it will write to Miss Shears suggesting she contact Citizens Advice or a similar agency (although we think they should have done that a bit earlier don’t you?)

If you are having debt trouble and are having problems making your repayments, you should speak free of charge to a debt adviser who can provide you with advice and solutions to help you resolve your debt and credit problems.

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22 Responses to “NatWest lends single mum on benefits £5,000 for a nose job”

  1. olly Says:
    May 9, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    how typical is that?

    im a 30 year old who earns roughly 25K a year. i have a child to support and a mortgage in my name with repayments of £634 including home/payment protection and health insurance. i dont have any other major overheads/loans credit cards etc and live relitively comfortably. i applied for a credit card recently and was turned down!!

    to be honest i think it was blessing in disguise as taking on unsecured credit is generally a bad move, i would prefer to do without those extra luxuries than owe a bank money for years.

    the government should take some (not all) responsibity for the credit issues people face. young people should be educated in school about financial issues as part of the mandatory ciriculum,maybe that way less young people would get themselves so heavily into debt and ruin chances of eventually buying property as they mature. it makes a lot more sense than teaching how to make a flame go blue with a bunsen burner!!

  2. Rachael Says:
    May 9, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Disgusting. I am a single, 23 year old with three jobs totalling an average yearly income of £32K and cant get a a morgage because of the latest banks decisions.

    Maybe i too should quit my job, get pregnant and go on benefits, then get my house that way. Im sure it would happen much quicker.

  3. Gazzy Says:
    May 9, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    I would also suggest that £400 a month for the two of them is quite easy. I earn 27k a year, my partner doesnt work and we have 2 young children. Following all bills, rent etc we have less than £400 a month and easily cope.
    But then again I don`t insist on a new nose and hair, maybe she should think about saving rather than instant gratification!!!

  4. Beth Says:
    May 9, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    The £400 that she would have a month would be to pay the bills this would not be surplus income to spend on what she wnats. The banks need to take more responsibility the situation as it is is madness!

  5. Safia Says:
    May 9, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    I find this whole story ridiculous! With my travel time, I am away from home at least 10 hours daily, earning c£20,000 a year. Mortgage payments, council tax, rising utilities and fuel costs leave me with less than £300 per month, and I still pay off legal fees following divorce.

    Fortunately, my nose is perfectly fine, but I can rarely afford to get my hair done despite the hours I work.

    Beginning to wonder if I’d be better off on benefit, a good education has clearly not paid off, and at least I could get my hair done!

  6. Jan Says:
    May 9, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    The bank should not lend for cosmetic surgery to an 18 year old that is irrisponsible. The lending of such a large sum should be contingent on the ability to pay. I would suggest that if someone is on benefits whilst it should not prohibit a loan should require strict repayments linked to receipt of benefit. This would assist and encourange the individual or couple to pay as they would other bills as when the money has been received

  7. Ian Says:
    May 9, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    The girls Benefits should be stopped immediately and reisued minus the cost of the loan and don’t blart on about the child being the one who suffers, where is the father?
    She is a so called responsible adult and mother and has nobody but herself to blame, she signed the paperwork, I am disgusted she would do this while on benefit and if she can’t look after her own personal afairs, she should not be looking after a child who has to rely on her.

  8. John Says:
    May 9, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    Bizarre indeed – both I and my wife work and as we bought our house over 5 years ago, we have some equity in it. However when we went £9.23 overdrawn (yes, you read that correctly, £9.23!)the very same NatWest bank felt it necessary to send us a stiff letter asking for our plans for repaying the money, and warning us not to go overdrawn again. Obviously I would have got more respect had I been a single parent on benefits.

  9. Mark Says:
    May 9, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    I find it unbelievable that peopl are blaming the bank. As a responsible adult, the 18 year old girl is wholly responsible for her financial situation. If normal people want the little luxurys in life -guess what we work!. As a result of the bad press she will probaly not have to pay the money back and we the people that pay our bills on time will pick up her bill in charges. She should not be allowed to have any credit when on benefits, get a job!

  10. Anna Says:
    May 10, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    This seems a very strange commercial decision by the bank but Roma should also take responsibility for her own actions. There are many people who work and who are trying to support themselves on less money than she has. Why should everyone else have to bale her out? What example is she to her daughter?

  11. Estelle Says:
    May 10, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    There is a charity called Care for the family and they give advice and run courses for families to equip their children with this kind of advice and guidance. the latest is to do with children and finance. quidz in http://www.quidzin.org.uk

  12. jacqueline shaw Says:
    May 10, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    How lucky she was – ive been with them for 7 years with a normal step account and cannot even get my account upgraded – had problems in the past with bankruptcy due to my partner dying but have a fll time job – reasonable income and cant even get anythng from them event though they keep inviting me to upgrade account – everytime I go to see them I get the same unsympathetic attitude – go back and try again in two years – I hasten to add my bankruptcy was for 18 months in 2003 and discharged in 2005! – what a bank!

  13. Sally C Says:
    May 10, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    As an ordinary Joe who cannot afford cosmetic surgery and has to cut her own hair – words fail me! The bank is ammoral and the 18yr old appears barely equipped to raise “paradis” let alone support herself. When did it become the norm that if you are the compliant well behaved one in all areas of life we get penalised and the idiots and the feckless get all the sympathy and benefits??

  14. Tim G Says:
    May 12, 2008 at 9:05 am

    I am flabbergasted at all those who seek to exculpate the bank! While clearly this girl does not have the sense she was born with, her situation has been made worse by a predatory bank that, rather than give her sound financial advice, has given her a financial product that could scarcely be any less appropriate!

    Of course she is responsible for her own actions, but then again so is the NatWest! We customers expect more sense from a high street bank than from a teenage mum!

  15. Craig S-G Says:
    May 12, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    I’ll tell you what the problem is. The person from Natwest who gave this lady the loan is probably on about c£18,000 a year and really didn’t have the intelligence nor the skills to deal with the application correctly. I see it time and time again, big corporations making 3 billion pounds profit a year yet they pay their staff such low wages it’s no wonder they don’t know what they’re doing. I had a situation just today where I went to the bank to arrange a payment and I knew more about it than they did!!! I blame the bank 100%. When I was 18 I would probably have tried my luck as well, she’s still a kid. The banks in this country need to wake up, they’re making billions a year at our expense and if things go wrong?? Don’t worry, the government will bail them out like they did Northern Rock. So think about this, you are probably going to pay for that nosejob :) Great, isn’t it!!

  16. jim Says:
    May 13, 2008 at 5:05 am

    we have savings accounts and investments with natwest we applied for a mortgage with them twice and was turned down maybe if we were on benefits we
    would have been accepted.

  17. Jas from the North Says:
    May 13, 2008 at 9:05 am

    The bank was irresponsible for lending to this woman, but this is not an isolated case. Where I live their are thousands of single women on benefits who earn more than a single, person does (most of the jobs where I live average at £14,000), in benefits and that is probably one of the reasons why we have a high proportion of teenage pregnancies. It’s a great career move! You can get your studies paid for and start earning later. I know many clients on benefits who have got themselves into debt, taking on credit cards and loan.
    They only have themselves to blame, but the government should take some responsibility for the culture of irresponsibilty it has created!

  18. neilrobb Says:
    May 13, 2008 at 10:05 am

    I wish I was on benefits.I work very hard to keep my family even thought we might look comfortable by the time you pay your bills, council tax, mortgage and water rates there is not much left. Most people think people only get qa small amount of money on benefits but look at all the extras they get housing ,council tax ,water rates how many of us know people who abuse the system but do nothing. Its about time people take responsibility for themsleves if they have a baby young then if there family dont want to support them then it there problem not ours there would be alot less teenage pregnacies if there were not given so much help.

  19. john Says:
    May 13, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Please learn to spell and use correct grammar if you want to bitch.

  20. Spitefulgod Says:
    May 14, 2008 at 11:05 am

    This clearly isn?t the banks fault and banks give money to people on benefits regularly as this is pretty much a secured/guaranteed income. The problem here is once again the media, they have taken the side of this slacker and now the bank will have to back down or face bad press leaving us to pick up the bill while she swans off to get drunk (why else would she need to get dolled up?). What should of happened is the story should have followed the stupidity and child neglect of this bimbo.

    Hey guess what it can only get worse for us workers as more and more people see the benefits of benefits.

  21. andrew Says:
    Jun 10, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    i work for the royal bank of scotland, and bank with natwest (which rbs own) i have to have my salary paid into this account. we i went over my over draft by £25 i was took into the office and pulled up about this. even tho i work for the insurance side.

    i can’t believe is statment, even me as an employee can’t get a loan!!!!

  22. 10 dumb reasons to take out a loan | Lowest Interest Cash Advance Says:
    Sep 28, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    [...] to a bank for a personal loan for plastic surgery, overextending a credit card to buy Christmas gifts, and borrowing from a 401k retirement plan are [...]

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