A LOTTERY windfall of £500,000 will help set up a town centre task force to stop a borough’s residents falling victim to both illegal and legal loan sharks.

The new Hyndburn Financial Confidence Project will include outreach workers, a drop-in centre, and special financial course, aimed at breaking the cycle of debt in the borough.

Run by Hyndburn Homes, those behind the project say the National Lottery invited the borough to bid for funding after its own research showed Hyndburn was severely affected by debt.

The Lottery’s research showed there was a high number of people without bank accounts, and other factors indicating risk in the area.

David Perry, at Hyndburn Homes, said many tenants were using high-rate loans, and even illegal loan sharks, simply to pay for the necessities.

A new ‘passport to housing’ scheme will be specifically aimed at the borough’s young people to prevent another generation getting into debt.

A combination of out-reach workers and community workers will work from a new base in Cannon Street, at Hyndburn Voluntary and Community Resource Centre.

Mr Perry said: “It’s very important to make sure our young people don’t repeat this cycle, and we put an end to the reliance on debt in the borough.

“Tenants of social housing are traditionally more at risk and, in hard times like these, the problem has spread.

“It’s not for fancy holidays, people are getting into trouble just to pay the bills.”

The money has been given out of a £31.7million pot for 37 projects that will help an estimated 150,000 tenants across England.

It is hoped the scheme will help tenants with money management, and better access to fin-ancial products and services, such as a basic bank account.