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CASH seized from loan sharks is being offered to fund community projects.

The Illegal Money Lending Team is offering pots of £5,000 to schemes in Portsmouth that raise awareness of the crime.

The team prosecutes and investigates loan sharks across the country.

Tony Quigley, head of service for the Illegal Money Lending Tea, said: ‘Illegal money lenders are a scourge on our communities and can have a huge detrimental impact on the lives of their victims.

‘We’re looking to fund community projects in Portsmouth, as we are able to use this money to fund something positive and help prevent these criminals from operating in the future.

‘If you think your project meets our criteria, then please come forward and bid.’

A panel will decide on bids for the cash.

Residents, charities, and voluntary groups can apply.

Projects that aim to raise awareness and promote official credit agencies and financial management can apply.

To apply, email catherine.wohlers@birmingham.gov.uk

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